By The Numbers: America’s New Terrorism Fears

Americans are way more terrified of terrorism than they were before attacks in Paris and San Bernardino

Dec 14, 2015 at 11:47 AM ET

Americans are significantly more concerned about a terrorist attack unfolding in the United States than they were before deadly violence struck Paris and, more recently, San Bernardino. Several polls conducted over the last several weeks show a spike in terrorism fears after the tragedies.

More Americans Not Loving America After San Bernardino

Outside the polls, the repercussions of rising alarm include surging Islamophobia across the country. There have been at least 15 documented attacks against Muslims since the Paris attacks on November 13, and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has made headlines with his proposal that all Muslims be banned from entering the U.S. until the government can “figure out what’s going on.”

Terrorism has quickly become the issue Americans believe is the most important problem facing the country, according to a Gallup poll published on Monday. The percentage of Americans who said they thought terrorism was the top issue in the U.S. surged from just 3 percent in early November to 16 percent when respondents were polled from December 2-6.

Fear of terrorism is split along party lines, with 24 percent of Republicans but only 9 percent of Democrats saying terrorism was the most important problem, the Gallup poll found. Republicans are significantly more concerned about terrorism than they were just weeks ago, in November, when only 4 percent of them named terrorism as the top concern.

The majority of Americans believe the terror group that controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria is a major threat to the country, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll, conducted on December 4-8. At 70 percent, that’s the highest it’s been since the NYT/CBS poll began asking the question in September 2014.

Roughly one in six Americans are worried about going to public shopping malls because of terrorism fears, a CNBC survey conducted on December 5-7 found. Around one-third of Americans are concerned about getting on an airplane, and 42 percent are either extremely or very concerned about flying internationally, the survey found.

Americans are divided when it comes to concerns about a mass shooting happening in the area in which they live, according to the NYT/CBS poll. Twenty-three percent said they were “very concerned,” 30 percent said they were “somewhat concerned,” 29 were “not very concerned” and 18 percent were “not concerned at all.”