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Fox News Poll: Two-thirds think 9/11 permanently changed life in US

As the 20-year mark of September 11 approaches, a Fox News Poll conducted before the recent events in Afghanistan finds that two-thirds (64%) of registered voters think the 2001 terrorist attacks permanently changed the way we live in the United States.

A quarter of respondents say the attacks caused temporary changes (24%), while 9% think life didn’t change at all.

The poll was conducted Aug. 7-Aug. 10, before the U.S. pullout in Afghanistan became front-page news.

Voters see the 9/11 attacks as more consequential than the coronavirus pandemic, with half (50%) saying in a June Fox News poll that the pandemic has made permanent changes to life in the U.S.

A majority believe the policies implemented because of the attacks made America safer (65%). Seventeen percent say less safe and 13% feel the policies didn’t make a difference.

But were the measures taken in response to 9/11 an overreaction? Few feel that way about increased airport screening (15%) or establishing the Department of Homeland Security (18%).

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Nearly twice as many, though still a minority, say interrogation techniques like waterboarding (38%) and military action against Iraq (31%) were an overreaction.

In early August, one-quarter (25%) said the U.S. taking military action against Afghanistan after 9/11 was an overreaction, while half (49%) thought it was “about right,” down from 56% in 2011 at the 10-year mark.

“These opinions could already be shifting as the Taliban has taken complete control of Afghanistan since the poll, which could make more Americans wonder why we went there in the first place,” says Chris Anderson, a Democratic pollster who conducts the Fox News Poll with Republican Daron Shaw.

When voters were asked their level of concern on several issues, attacks from Islamic terrorists comes in last — albeit this was before the events in Afghanistan. Fifty-eight percent are “extremely” or “very” concerned about attacks, while issues such as inflation (86%), political divisions (83%), violent crime (81%), health care (78%), China’s growing power (73%), unemployment (71%), the federal deficit (70%), coronavirus (69%), opioid addiction (69%), illegal immigration (66%), and racism (66%) are of greater concern. Climate change is at about the same level of concern (60%).

The rubble of the World Trade Center smoulders following a terrorist attack September 11, 2001 in New York. A hijacked plane crashed into and destroyed the landmark structure. (Photo by Porter Gifford/Corbis via Getty Images)

The rubble of the World Trade Center smoulders following a terrorist attack September 11, 2001 in New York. A hijacked plane crashed into and destroyed the landmark structure. (Photo by Porter Gifford/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Although Americans remain concerned about possible attacks by Islamic terrorists, the percentage indicating they are anxious has declined over the years,” says Shaw. “It will be interesting to see if the loss of Afghanistan to the Taliban rekindles concerns among voters whose focus had shifted.”

Voters split over whether September 11 should be a federal holiday: 47% say yes and 46% no.

Conducted August 7-10, 2021 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,002 registered voters nationwide who were randomly selected from a national voter file and spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The total sample has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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