In the aftermath of the American journalist James Foley’s gruesome beheading, the threat Islamic State terrorists pose to the U.S. has become much clearer. Not only does the organization, also known as ISIS, present a danger to citizens abroad; a widespread security alert reported this week indicates that the group is part of a present terrorist danger on our nation’s southern border.
Nevertheless, a recent poll conducted by Pew Research and USA Today indicates that Democrats see a more abstract danger as a more important focus for U.S. leaders.
The wide-ranging study indicated that 68 percent of Democrats see global climate change as a “major threat” to our nation, while only 65 percent say the same about ISIS. The number of Democrats worrying about global warming is also higher than those concerned about al Qaeda’s threat–and a full 10 points higher than the number who think North Korea’s nuclear program is a significant threat.
By comparison, eight in 10 Republicans define al Qaeda and ISIS as major threats, compared to just one quarter who feel the same about climate change. Among independent voters, those worried about al Qaeda (69 percent) and ISIS (63 percent) make up significantly larger groups than the 44 percent who see global warming as a major threat.
The poll also touched on a number of other international issues, including participants’ view of the role America plays on the global stage. While more than half of all those surveyed in a similar study last November felt the U.S. did too much to assist in solving the world’s problems, only 39 percent offered the same opinion in the latest poll.
As for America’s status as a world leader, the number who see the nation as occupying a “less important and powerful role than 10 years ago” has spiked in recent years.
Midway through George W. Bush’s presidency, just two in 10 respondents provided that opinion. Six years into the Obama administration, however, about half of those polled believe our global status has diminished over the past decade.