Americans trust Democrats to protect them from international terrorism as strongly as they trust Republicans, according to a Gallup poll published Thursday -- the first time in five years that the GOP has not led on the issue.
The survey showed the nation’s two major parties tied at 45 percent on which would do a better job of safeguarding the United States against terrorism. Only a year ago, Republicans led, 49 percent to 38 percent.
Republicans have held a consistent advantage on terror security over the last decade, leading in eight of the nine polls Gallup conducted between 2002 and 2011, often by wide margins.
The poll released on Thursday included 1,017 adults and was conducted between Sept. 6 and 9, the end of a two-week stretch that included both parties’ national conventions.
International terrorism emerged this week as a hot-button issue in the presidential campaign, after American diplomatic outposts in Egypt and Libya were stormed by Islamic demonstrators on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In Cairo, protesters defaced and scaled the wall of the US embassy there, taking down the American flag. The US consulate in Benghazi was burned down and four Americans were killed, including US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
The outburst in Cairo appeared to be a response to a film that depicts the Muslim prophet Mohammed as a lecherous buffoon, but US officials said Wednesday that they were investigating the attack in Libya as a well-planned act of terrorism.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has criticized the Obama administration’s response to the violence, saying at a press conference in Florida on Wednesday that the president “has demonstrated a lack of clarity as to a foreign policy.”
Obama sought to project resolve in a White House address on Wednesday.
“We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act,” Obama said of the killings in Benghazi. “And make no mistake, justice will be done.”