LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — In the wake of the San Bernardino massacre, 44 percent of Americans think another terror attack in the next few months is very likely, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll. That is the highest percentage since immediately after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001
Claremont College Professor of American Politics Jack Pitney said most of the time, people do not care about foreign policy unless it concerns terrorism.
“This literally hits home, San Bernardino. And people see what happened there and think: ‘Oh my gosh!’ That could happen anywhere in the United States,” Pitney said. “So this is a concern that’s going to persist and it’s going to affect the presidential election. We’re going to be talking about this for a long time to come.”
The CBS poll found Trump is seen, by far, as the best candidate to handle terrorism. He has 35 percent of the support from Republican primary voters.
Ted Cruz is at a distant second with 16 percent, while Ben Carson is close behind with 13 percent.
“It could help Donald Trump in the short run because he is speaking to fears. He is speaking to emotion. Longer run is a different story. People are going to wonder: Well, does his plan about keeping Muslims out even make any sense?” Pitney pointed out.
The professor said the same is true for Democratic presidential front- runner Hillary Clinton.
“In the short run, it definitely helps Hillary Clinton because it speaks to her strengths. She was Secretary of State, has a firm position on terrorism. In the long run, however, you get to the general election, whether or not she wants to, she is tied to the record of the Obama administration.
Only 34 percent approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of terrorism – a record low, while 57 percent disapprove, according to the CBS News poll.
For the first time since 2006, terrorism outranked the economy as the most important problem facing the nation today, the poll found.