In Brief

Memory of 9/11 attacks fading among voters, poll finds

By: - September 7, 2021 11:00 am

The poll found 19% of New Jerseyans plan to observe the anniversary of 9/11, down from 26% in 2011. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Twenty years later, the 9/11 attacks are further from the minds of New Jersey’s voters than they ever have been.

Fewer than 1 in 5 registered New Jersey voters — 18% — regularly think about the attacks, according to a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday. That’s down from 31% of respondents in a 2011 Monmouth poll.

Meanwhile, 56% of voters think about the attacks occasionally, up from 46% in 2011, and 27% say they rarely or never think of them, up from 23% a decade ago.

The poll found 19% of New Jerseyans plan to observe the anniversary of 9/11, down from 26% in 2011.

“The memory may be fading, but not entirely,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “The 9/11 attacks left an indelible imprint on the Garden State that will never entirely disappear.”

Nearly half of the poll’s respondents, 49%, said the country’s governments have not done enough for first responders who developed health issues related to their work at the wreckage of the World Trade Center. That’s down from 68% in 2011. The drop was driven largely by a 14-point rise in those who have no opinion on the governments’ response to 9/11-related health issues. Fourteen percent say the response was sufficient.

New Jerseyans also feel less safe about terrorist threats to New York City than they did 10 years ago. Only 37% said the city is safer from terrorism than it was before the attack on the twin towers, compared to 48% who said the same in 2011.

The number who said the city is less safe, 27%, has nearly doubled from the 14% recorded 10 years ago.

Feelings are similar about threats at a national level. The largest share of voters, 38%, said the country is better guarded from terrorism than it was in 2001, and 28% said it is less safe. In 2011, 45% said the nation was safer and 20% said it wasn’t.

Voters’ opinions about the source of those threats have changed.

Increasingly, foreign terror groups are viewed as a less pressing threat. Just 16% of voters said groups based abroad pose the greatest threat to the United States. A staggering 67% said the same about domestic terror groups, while 9% said both categories pose equal threats.

“It is likely that events of the last few years, including the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January, have focused terrorism concerns on threats emerging from within our borders,” Murray said, adding the degree of change is unclear because the question has not previously been polled.

The survey sampled 810 New Jersey voters using live telephone and cellphone calls and has a 3.5% margin of error. Polling was conducted between Aug. 11 and 16 and does not reflect changes in attitude spurred by the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.