Sorry, Bush and Rove, fear has declined since September

Are you scared?

Pollsters don't ask that basic question. Actually, they do, with slightly more finesse.

I realize we don't like Strategic Vision (R) around here, but they've had one question that has fascinated me all year:

"Do you expect another terrorist attack within the United States in the next six months?"

I noticed that bizarre inquiry in their polling this spring, and have never been more stunned at a consensus. I would have said no within half a second and laughed at the questioner, asking if anyone actually answered yes. Yet in every state, the percentage has always been 70+% Yes, an amazing detour from base probability. In fact, the people who said Yes in spring have already "lost."

Eventually I realized that question was an interesting gauge of fear level, moving up or down depending on how prevalent terrorism was in the news and national mindset. Last week Karl Rove said terrorism would be the premier topic on the eve of the election. He better have something clever up his sleazy sleeve, because fear is slumping like gas prices.

Strategic Vision has been polling the same nine states all year. Five polls have been released since October 20. I checked the numbers in those states, beginning in June, then in September, and compared to the late October poll. The "terrorist strike within six months?" percentage moved up significantly in all five states beginning in June, peaking in late September, shortly after the 9/11 aniversary coverage and before the Foley news broke. But all five states dropped from September to October. Hmm. All five moving in the same direction, not once but twice. I call that a reliable measure.

No question the percentages are still remarkably high. But in close elections the drop in fear level can be just enough to promote rational voting, and tip races to our side.

The states are Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington. I decided to use only the states with a poll released within the past week.

From June to September the Yes percentage jumped in every state, by 13, 10, 10, 8, and 12 points. But from September to late October the Yes number slid in each of the five states, by 5, 8, 5, 3 and 4. Even though the Yes average is still 5 points higher than June, the No percentage has returned to roughly 11%, the June level, from barely 5% average in October. The Undecideds have stabilized from September to October at 11% average. So you basically had 5% moving from Yes to No in the past month.

Not earth shattering, admittedly, but hell, I'd call it a positive. And I was supremely confident no one else was going to diary this:)

Here are the five-state averages:
"Do you expect another terrorist attack within the United States in the next six months?"

72.2% Yes, 11.4% No, 16.4% Undecided

82.8% Yes, 5.4% No, 11.8% Undecided

77.8% Yes, 11% No, 11.2% Undecided /results.htm


June: 71% Yes, 13% No, 16% Undecided
September: 84% Yes, 7% No, 9% Undecided
October: 79% Yes, 11% No, 10% Undecided


June:  74% Yes, 14% No, 12% Undecided
September: 84% Yes, 5% No, 11% Undecided
October: 76% Yes, 14% No, 10% Undecided


June:  71% Yes, 10% No, 19% Undecided
September: 81% Yes, 4% No, 15% Undecided
October: 76% Yes, 13% No, 11% Undecided


June: 73% Yes, 10% No, 17% Undecided
September: 81% Yes, 5% No, 14% Undecided
October 78% Yes, 8% No, 14% Undecided


June:  72% Yes, 10% No, 18% Undecided
September : 84% Yes, 6% No, 10% Undecided
October: 80% Yes, 9% No, 11% Undecided

Tags: Elections, fear, George Bush, Karl Rove, polls, Strategic Vision, terrorism (all tags)


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