We test traditional assumptions about the volatility of mass opinion in times of national crises using data about views of terrorism from national surveys of the United States general public in 1995 and 1997, findings from a national survey immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11), and panel data from a follow-up survey in 2002. We compare public assessments of the threat of terrorism, willingness to restrict speech to prevent terrorism, support for employing conventional military force against countries that support terrorism, and levels of certainty about culpability required prior to using military force. Results show stable and measured public views prior to 9/11, immediately following the events of that date, and in the subsequent year. Our findings support democratic and modernist theories of public capacities while challenging long-standing traditional precepts about widespread volatility of mass public opinion.
- public preferences
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/hjsmith/1/