The Republican Party has its widest advantage yet against Democrats when it comes to which party is viewed as being better able to protect the country from terrorism, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. The widening gap on the terrorism issue was partly attributed to President Barack Obama’s recent missteps on ISIS, including saying “we don’t have a strategy yet” late last month.
The GOP has a 23 percentage point edge against Democrats when it comes to terrorism. Roughly 55 percent of respondents said Republicans will do a better job at protecting the U.S. from international terrorism and military threats, while only 32 percent said the Democrats are the better party on terrorism. The poll of 1,017 adults was conducted between Sept. 4 and Sept. 7, days before Obama unveiled his strategy for “degrading and destroying ISIS” in a primetime address Wednesday night. The survey has a margin of error of 4 percent.
Before the poll was released, the biggest advantage Republicans had over Democrats on terrorism was in 2002, when Gallup first asked the question. Back then, the GOP enjoyed a 19 percentage point advantage over Democrats. In the 12 years the question has been asked, Democrats were only viewed as the stronger party on terrorism once -- in 2007, when 47 percent of respondents chose them and 42 percent sided with the GOP. In 2012, both parties were tied at 45 percent.
The rise of ISIS, now known as the Islamic State, and the recent beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, may be part of the reason why Republicans are viewed as the better party on terrorism, according to Gallup.
“The strong Republican advantage this year is most likely related to the increasing news coverage of ISIS and its beheadings of two American journalists,” the poll stated. “Although the Obama administration has initiated air attacks against terrorist positions in Iraq, the president's widely quoted comments that he had ‘no strategy’ for dealing with the issue may help explain why Americans have become less likely to say the Democrats could better protect the U.S. from terrorism and military threats.”