May 5, 2009
Bill Shapard

Poll Finds Oklahomans Growing More Worried of a Terrorist Attack

Twice as many �very worried� compared to nearly two months ago

Oklahomans are growing more concerned about the likelihood of a terrorist attack, according to a recent poll released by the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT).

Earlier this year, MIPT asked likely Oklahoma voters if they were �worried that the United States would experience a terrorist attack, on the scale of 9/11, in the next few months�.� Though many, 62 percent, said they were worried then, even more have expressed concern in the latest poll when asked about a terrorist attack in general. Twice as many then the previous poll explained that they were �very worried� (19 percent).

�How Oklahoman�s view the terrorism threat has implications for security and intelligence policy, both within our state and at the national level. Perception of the threat is the most important factor in where one believes the balance between freedom and security should be set,� David Cid, MIPT acting director, said. �Those resisting the post 9/11 security measures do so from the firmly held belief that the threat from terrorism is diminishing. Those who perceive the threat as significant favor a robust national counterterrorism program.�

The five question poll was commissioned by MIPT and conducted by on April 23-26, 2009.� It was organized in an effort to gauge public opinion across the state regarding the threat of terrorism and extremism.

Reason for growing concern may be attributed to increased concerns about extremist behavior.� Eight in every 10 respondents said they agreed extremist behavior is on the rise and the same amount of respondents said current social conditions such as unemployment, home foreclosures and recession can encourage such extremist behavior.

Who is likely to commit a terrorist attack
When asked which group is most likely to commit a terrorist attack in the U.S. in the next six months;

  • 42.1 percent of respondents answered foreign-based Islamic extremists, and
  • 18.2 percent stated domestic Islamic extremists.

View the 2009 Mipt Commissioned SoonerPoll Toplines and Crosstabs

Right or left
These voters further fear, though significantly less, that attacks could come from right-wing and left-wing extremists.

  • 6.6 percent answered radical or left-wing extremists (such as eco-terrorists, anti-corporate extremists, or non-white, raced-based extremists);
  • 17.3 percent answered reactionary or right-wing extremists (such as white-supremacist groups, Para-military or militia groups or anti-abortion extremists).

�Despite recent reports from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding the rise of the homegrown right-wing extremism, most Oklahoman�s view Islamic Extremists as the most present threat. The vividness of 9/11 is no doubt an influence in this view, as well as the attacks in London and Madrid, but the resurgence of the radical right represents an emerging threat,� Cid said.

�The inartfull writing of the DHS report and subsequent controversy obscured the merits of the analysis, which identified potential threats and did so with candor. The recent arrest in Oklahoma City of an Iraqi War veteran for attempting to sell explosives is an example of the problem this report addressed. �
The survey had a sample size of 318 likely Oklahoma voters with a 5.5 percent, plus or minus, margin of error.

Bill Shapard
About the Author

Bill Shapard

Bill is the founder of and ShapardResearch, a full service market research firm based in Oklahoma City. Bill began his career in polling after working on a major campaign in Oklahoma from 1996 until founding SoonerPoll in 2004.