Democrats Seen As Better Against Terrorism

I’ve written long and often about the effects that mortality salience has on the electorate.  Primarily this is because I think it is a significant aspect surrounding the modern landscape of electoral politics.  The short of it is that if you’ve got the right message, and are capable of scaring the crap out of enough people, you’re going to get voters, and you’re going to win elections.

This used to play to the favor of the Republicans.

But according to a recent Gallup poll, this advantage may very well have eroded away.

Through this period of decline in the Republicans’ overall favorability, one enduring strength for the GOP has been the perception that it is the better party for handling international terrorism and national defense. One year after the 9/11 attacks, the Republicans had a 19-point lead over the Democrats in this area. That lead gradually sank to a statistically non-significant 2-point lead in 2006.

This year, for the first time since Gallup started asking this question in 2002, more Americans say the Democratic Party will do a better job than the Republican Party of protecting the country from security threats, 47% vs. 42%. These results mirror those Gallup obtained last October when it found a 46%-41% advantage for “the Democrats in Congress” over “the Republicans in Congress” when Americans were asked which representatives do the better job handling terrorism. Thus, Democrats likely gained the upper hand on the terrorism issue last fall just before the elections, and have been able to maintain that slim advantage since then.  

This alone should give many Republicans cause for alarm.  The reason for this is that for some time now, Democrats have consistantly polled better than Republicans in a lot of venues; economy, domestic issues, etc.  But the one thing that Republicans could always count on for better polling numbers has remained the fight against terrorists.

This single item alone has proven to hold more weight than the rest of the issues combined, and again I believe much of that has to do with the effects of Terror Management Theory.  So while people would agree that life in various ways would be better under Democratic governance, they would still vote Republican for this one single thing.

And if this poll holds up, that one single thing could very well be gone.

This brings up some interesting questions.  Is this because we’ve gone without another 9/11 for long enough to where people are no longer scared?  Or is it because Republicans have been campaigning off of fear for so long that the electorate is now desensitized?

Are we, as a nation, actually ready to sit down and look at the entire terrorism ordeal with a rational eye?

It’s difficult to say, but one thing is certain, some politicians have made it their mark (*ahem* Rudy *cough-cough*) to politick long and hard on terrorism and preventing the next terror attack, and if what this poll is telling us is true, well, they may have very well just hitched themselves up to the wrong cart in this race.


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