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Ohio Voters Measure the Presidential Candidates by Their Response to Terrorism

photo of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

You’re far more likely to die in a traffic accident than ina terrorist attack in Ohio. But arecent poll shows terrorism ranks among the top four concerns for Ohioans, while car accidents received no mention.

Fifteen years after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, terrorism still shapes how people think and view the two major candidates for president.

What's their basis? What are the numbers?
On average, since 1995, 153 people have died on U.S. soil each year due to terrorism, which is defined as criminal acts designed to sway or persuade opinion or actions. That includes the 2001 attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 in one day. Minus that one day, the average is about a dozen deaths a year over two decades.

In Ohio in the last 45 years combined, six people have been killed by terror attacks, and all of those were before 1986.

In contrast, 752 people died last year in Ohio alone as a result of traffic accidents. Far more people die of poisonings, falls and weather disasters than terrorism.

The polling in Ohio took place in August, after attacks in France and Orlando captured the public. In response to an open-ended question about their issue of greatest concern, about 4.9 percent of respondents listed terrorism or the Islamic State as the top problem -- fourth among a long list of issues -- and another 4.2 percent named national security/defense, ranking sixth. Poverty/economic inequality was the top problem among those polled, at 10.9 percent.

Those most likely to be concerned about terrorism were women far more than men, Generation X, which is most likely to be in the family-rearing stage, and Republicans.

And the August poll showed that while Ohio residents still place a high priority on economic issues, terrorism and related immigration issues play an important role in defining their support or dislike for presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Your Vote Ohio Logo

The Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron designed the survey as part of the @YourVoteOhio project, an effort by major Ohio news organizations to determine what issues Ohio voters consider the most important and their reasons for backing a particular candidate. The Center for Marketing Opinion and Research in Akron conducted a phone survey of 1,079 Ohioans in August after surveying them in April and May. The margin of error was 3  percent.

Matter of perception
The relative safety of Ohio isn’t lost on most people living here.

Stevi Lunsford, 24, of Canton, said New York and Washington, D.C., are more likely terrorist targets than Ohio.

"I mean there's places that are more important to people who want to take down America," she said. "So, in Ohio, I feel a lot more safe. But, in those states, I wouldn't feel so comfortable."

Still, though, the fear of terrorism has affected Americans.

A Pew Research Center poll conducted in August shows that 40 percent of Americans believe there is a greater chance of a major attack today than at the time of the 9-11 attacks – the highest percentage in 14 years.  Republicans are entirely responsible for the growth, according to the poll, with 58 percent concerned about the chances of an attack.

And in Ohio, it is terrorism, national security and related immigration issues that define Donald Trump, according to the poll done for the state’s news organizations. Those who like him are highly likely to name one of those reasons as their cause for support. Not so for Clinton, whose issue-strengths are spread across multiple topics.

Clinton, the Democratic nominee, said she would work with allies to continue the campaign against Islamic State, which has inspired or claimed responsibility for many of the terrorist attacks, would seek to block suspected terrorists from buying guns in the U.S. and would support law enforcement's efforts to build relationships with American Muslim communities, according to the nonprofit organization the Jefferson Center.

Trump, the Republican nominee, had called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering this country. He since has revised that position to blocking visitors from countries with terrorist activity. He also proposes to “crush and destroy ISIS” with joint military operations.

The Ohio polls show that the state’s residents have a sense that trade policies, income inequality and general economic conditions are critical issues, but the images and sounds of terrorism have made a lasting impression.

photo of John Mueller
John Mueller, a professor at Ohio State University, says seven Americans die from terrorism each year.

  John Mueller, a political science professor at Ohio State University who studies government policy in response to terrorism, said that since 9/11, the number of Americans killed by Islamic terrorists has averaged about seven a year, even counting the 49 a lone gunman killed in Orlando in June. Far more die in drug overdoses every week, he said.

He said the odds of being killed in a terrorist attack are roughly 1 in 40 million. The odds of being killed in a car crash are about 1 in 8,000.

Mueller said the chances of being killed in a collision with a deer crossing a road, by lightening, by drowning in a bathtub or in an industrial accident are all greater than the chances of being killed by a terrorist in the United States. He said politicians seek to attract support, and the media seek to attract an audience, by playing into people's fears of terrorism.

"There are always dangers out there. You can't be completely safe," Mueller said. "You want to worry the most about the things that are the most dangerous. ... Any death is regrettable, obviously, but you should also keep it in proportion."

The Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland shows only 50 terrorist incidents have occurred in Ohio since 1970. Two have taken place since 2010. Anti-abortion activists committed 19 of those with explosives or incendiary devices against clinics or similar facilities. Other attacks that involved taking hostages, bombings and armed assaults were linked by authorities to the Christian Liberation Army, the Aryan Republican Army, left-wing militants, anarchists, black nationalists, the Black Panthers, a neo-Nazi group, workers on strike and white extremists. Six were killed and five were injured in the attacks.

Despite the rarity of terrorist attacks in Ohio, several of the 1,079 respondents in the August survey cited the presidential candidates' stance on terrorism in their support for a candidate. About 3.2 percent said they might change their view of Clinton if she pledged to strengthen the military and developed what they view as a better plan to combat terrorists.

Trump has attracted support due to statements he has made on terrorism. Of the respondents who said they felt positive about Trump's positions on the issues, 6.3 percent cited his pledges to fight to stop terrorists. Only 0.9 percent who felt negative about Trump's position on the issues cited his statements on terrorism as the reason.

Concerns vary

photo of Edward Hudson
Edward Hudson says he is far more concerned about being a victim in a terror attack while travelling to another country.

Edward Hudson, 58, of Massillon, thinks it's unlikely he would be a victim of terrorism, but he said it would be more of a concern if he were to travel, as he considers a terrorist act more likely to occur outside the United States. He said he someday wants to visit every continent.

Jane Tucker, 57, of Canton, said she considers it unlikely she would be the victim of terrorism in her home state.

"But then I don't expect to get hit by lightning, either. But I don't worry about it," she said, adding that she considers the mass shootings of the past several years as terrorist attacks.

Susie Shea, 28, of Kent, said she's not surprised that terrorism is home-grown and that abortion clinics have been prime targets of attacks for more than 40 years.

"I think that was probably done from people that were born here. Not people from other countries," she said.

Bernie Miner, 65, of Jackson Township in Stark County, said he's vulnerable to a potential terrorist attack every time he leaves his home.

As for the odds, "I don't think you could put a percentage to it. ... They can strike anywhere at any time, so again, I think it's situational awareness is what we need to be concerned with. Every time we go out, we need to be aware of who's around us, what's around us, and try to reduce our risk."



Hillary Clinton in Cleveland
Hillary Clinton's plan to defeat terror groups involves dismantling strongholds across the Middle East and forming relationships with allies in the region.

  Hillary Clinton’s position on terrorism

Position: Combating terrorism and keeping the homeland safe

Implementation Plans:
1. Take out ISISs stronghold in Iraq and Syria. We have to defeat ISIS on the battlefield by:

·         Intensifying the coalition air campaign against ISIS fighters, leaders, and infrastructure;

·         Stepping up support for local Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground and coalition efforts to protect civilians; and

·         Pursuing a diplomatic strategy aimed at resolving Syria’s civil war and Iraq’s sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shias—both of which have contributed to the rise of ISIS.

2. Work with our allies to dismantle global terror networks

We have to stem the flow of jihadists from Europe and America to and from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. To that end, we must work with our allies to dismantle the global terror network that supplies radical jihadists with money, weapons, and fighters. That means:

·         Working hand in hand with European intelligence services to identify and go after enablers who help jihadists forge documents and travel undetected;

·         Targeting efforts to deal with ISIS affiliates from Libya to Afghanistan; and

·         Working with tech companies to fight jihadist propaganda online, intercept ISIS communications, and track and analyze social media posts to stop attacks—while protecting security and privacy.

3. Harden our defenses at home

We have to do more to identify and stop terrorists—including so-called “lone wolves”—from carrying out attacks in the United States, including:

·         Supporting first responders, law enforcement, and intelligence officers with the right tools, resources, intelligence, and training to prevent attacks before they happen;

·         Launching an intelligence surge to get security officials the tools they need to prevent attacks;

·         Keeping assault weapons and other tools of terror out of terrorists’ hands by allowing the FBI to stop gun sales to suspected terrorists, enacting comprehensive background checks, and keeping military-style assault weapons off our streets; and

·         Supporting law enforcement to build trustful and strong relationships with American Muslim communities. We need every American community invested in this fight, not fearful and sitting on the sidelines.

Other Statements:

“Radical jihadists, like so many adversaries in our history, underestimate the strength of our national character. Americans will not cower or cave. And we will not turn on each other or turn on our principles. We will defeat those who threaten us. We will keep our country safe and strong, free and tolerant. And we will always defend our friends and allies.” (via HillaryClinton.com)

“ISIS is attempting a genocide of religious and ethnic minorities. It beheads civilians. It enslaves, tortures, and rapes women and girls.

Walls will not protect us from this threat. We cannot contain ISIS—we must defeat ISIS.


“And we also have to tackle a thorny challenge that is top-of-mind here in the Bay Area: navigating the security and civil liberties concerns surrounding the encryption of mobile devices and communications.

Impenetrable encryption provides significant cybersecurity advantages, but may also make it harder for law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals to investigate plots and prevent future attacks. ISIS knows this, too. At the same time, there are legitimate worries about privacy, network security, and creating new vulnerabilities that bad actors—including terrorists—can exploit.

There may be no quick or magic fix. In the Apple case, the FBI may have found a work-around—but there will be future cases, with different facts and different challenges. So the tech community and the government have to stop seeing each other as adversaries and start working together to protect our safety and our privacy. A National Commission on Encryption, like Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Mike McCaul are proposing, could help. And our security professionals could use the advice and talents of technology professionals to help us figure out how we do stay ahead of the terrorists.” (via HillaryClinton.com)

Information gathered by the Jefferson Center for the Your Vote Ohio project. Visit either on Facebook, or at www.yourvoteohio.org. The Jefferson Center is a non-partisan organization based in St. Paul, Minn., and conducts citizen research and engagement on multiple subjects.

Donald Trump speaking at one of his rallys
Donald Trump's terrorism plan focuses on immigration reform, improved monitoring of radical ideals and creating safe zones for Syrian refugees.

                                                          Donald Trump’s position on terrorism

Position: Against nation-building and regime change

Implementation Plans:
“Our current strategy of nation-building and regime change is a proven failure. We have created the vacuums that allow terrorists to grow and thrive.”

“If I become president, the era of nation-building will be ended. Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of radical Islam…As president, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.

We will also work closely with NATO on this new mission. I had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.

I also believe that we could find common ground with Russia in the fight against ISIS. They too have much at stake in the outcome in Syria, and have had their own battles with Islamic terrorism.

My administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cut off their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”

“Military, cyber and financial warfare will all be essential in dismantling Islamic terrorism. But we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of radical Islam…my administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith.”

“…my administration will not telegraph exact military plans to the enemy.”

Position: Revising immigration procedures to control terror
Implementation Plans:
“A Trump administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people. In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.

In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law. Those who do not believe in our constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.

Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued immigrant visas. To put these new procedures in place, we will have to temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.

As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures. The size of current immigration flows are simply too large to perform adequate screening. We admit about 100,000 permanent immigrants from the Middle East every year. Beyond that, we admit hundreds of thousands of temporary workers and visitors from the same regions. If we don’t control the numbers, we can’t perform adequate screening.”

“Immigration officers will also have their powers restored: those who are guests in our country that are preaching hate will be asked to return home.”

“Finally, we will pursue aggressive criminal or immigration charges against anyone who lends material support to terrorism. Similar to the effort to take down the mafia, this will be the understood mission of every federal investigator and prosecutor in the country.”

Position: Establish a Commission on Radical Islam

Implementation Plans:
“…one of my first acts as president will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam – which will include reformist voices in the Muslim community who will hopefully work with us. We want to build bridges and erase divisions.

The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization. This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners.”

Position: Create safe zones in Syria for refugees

Implementation Plans:
TRUMP: We'll build safe zones over in Syria.  We'll do something.  We have to have the [Persian] gulf states pay for it, because the gulf states, they make nothing but money...

HANNITY:  In other words, the refugees, you'll help them.

TRUMP:  A hundred percent.

HANNITY:  You'll give food, water, medicine...

TRUMP:  Oh, 100 percent.

HANNITY:  … supplies, baby formula, but it will be a safe zone that's protected and not bring them here.

TRUMP:  A hundred percent.  A hundred percent.

Other Statements:
“In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians. We have things that we have never seen before. Not since medieval times have people seen what's going on. I would bring back waterboarding and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” (via ABC GOP Debate, 2.6.16)

“Well, I don't want to close mosques; I want mosques surveilled. And all I would do, certainly there are certain hot spots and everybody knows they're hot spots. Good material was coming out of those mosques. We were learning a lot. And they were stopping problems and potential problems by learning what was happening. I don't want to close up mosques but things have to happen where, you have got to use strong measures or you're going to see buildings coming down all over New York City and elsewhere.” (via ABC “This Week” interview, 11.22.15)

“Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country. Anyone who cannot condemn the hatred, oppression and violence of Radical Islam lacks the moral clarity to serve as our President.

The rise of ISIS is the direct result of policy decisions made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton. Let’s look back at the Middle East at the very beginning of 2009, before the Obama-Clinton Administration took over. Libya was stable. Syria was under control. Egypt was ruled by a secular President and an ally of the United States. Iraq was experiencing a reduction in violence. The group that would become what we now call ISIS was close to being extinguished. Iran was being choked off by economic sanctions.”

“We will also keep open Guantanamo Bay, and place a renewed emphasis on human intelligence. Drone strikes will remain part of our strategy, but we will also seek to capture high-value targets to gain needed information to dismantle their organizations. Foreign combatants will be tried in military commissions.”

“But just like we couldn’t defeat communism without acknowledging that communism exists – or explaining its evils – we can’t defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism unless we do the same. This also means we have to promote the exceptional virtues of our own way of life – and expecting that newcomers to our society do the same. Pride in our institutions, our history and our values should be taught by parents and teachers, and impressed upon all who join our society. Assimilation is not an act of hostility, but an expression of compassion. Our system of government, and our American culture, is the best in the world and will produce the best outcomes for all who adopt it. This approach will not only make us safer, but bring us closer together as a country. Renewing this spirit of Americanism will help heal the divisions in our country. It will do so by emphasizing what we have in common – not what pulls us apart.”
(via Donald Trump speech in Youngstown, 8.15.16)

Information gathered by the Jefferson Center for the Your Vote Ohio project. Visit either on Facebook, or at www.yourvoteohio.org. The Jefferson Center is a non-partisan organization based in St. Paul, Minn., and conducts citizen research and engagement on multiple subjects.

Thoughts about terrorism in Ohio vary with life experiences:

City shootings a bigger concern

Jaquala Cobb

  • Age: 28
  • Hometown: Lima
  • Occupation: Medical assistant

Concern about terrorism, “makes me more cautious, but not as concerned as in larger cities.” She said it’s “Kinda scary, they could look like us. They could pull out a gun or a bomb.”
However, she said the bigger problem in Ohio is people shooting each other in the cities. She was shocked that Ohio’s most common form of terrorism is attacks on abortion clinics, and hadn’t thought of that as a terrorist act.

Considered low risk

Jane Tucker

  • Age: 57
  • Hometown: Canton
  • Occupation: Retired chef.

Believes it's improbable she would be the victim of a terrorist attack in Stark County. "But then I don't expect to get hit by lightning either. But I don't worry about it."
How has terrorism affected her? "Just a loss of innocence in the world that people have to be more vigilant than we used to be. Not against any particular group, just in general. We have homegrown terrorists too," Tucker said.

When asked what she considers to be the most common type of terrorism in Ohio, Tucker said, "Probably racial terrorism. There's still a lot of racial issues here on both sides. But, we have a lot of police shootings that probably shouldn't happen."

Tucker said she believes "homegrown terrorism" is the most common type of terrorism in the country. "People that are mentally ill that shouldn't have guns end up killing 20, 30 people at a time these days in our schools, in our shopping malls, you name it. To me those are the worst terrorists we have. Foreign terrorists, haven't seen them recently. That's not to say we shouldn't be vigilant. But we need to take care of our own business."

Concerned about risk

Bernie Miner

  • Age: 65
  • Hometown: Jackson Township near Canton
  • Occupation: Retired defense contractor

"Every time I leave my house I'm vulnerable to it (terrorism). I just need to be aware of what's going on around me."
When asked the chances he or someone he knows would be a victim of terrorism, the married retired defense contractor manager said, "I don't think you could put a percentage to it. It depends on from what we've seen in most recent news reports, what we've seen of most recent terrorist acts they can strike anywhere at any time, so again I think it's situational awareness is what we need to be concerned with. Every time we go out we need to be aware of who's around us, what's around us, and try to reduce our risk."

Concerned about Muslims

Diane Melnick

  • Age: 50s
  • Occupation: Married mother of five
  • Hometown: Salem 

Melnick says the battle against terrorism should begin with recruiting on the internet. “Why can’t we just shut down those Web sites? It’s not legal to scream fire in a packed theater. Why should you be able to communicate hate speech on the Web? ...  
“And what about all these mosques that keep preaching hatred and murder and killing? They should be monitored, and if that’s what they’re preaching in this country -- to kill other Americans -- that should be shut down.”

“If Muslims are not preaching violence, “you won’t mind people listening in to what you’re saying.”

Personal connection

Teniya Hicks

  • Age: 20
  • Hometown: Lima
  • Occupation: College student

She has a personal connection – an uncle was a New York City police officer on 9-11. He wasn’t hurt, but “that had a big impact on him and his family.”
Her father’s family is from New York, and 9-11 made a lasting impression.

She said she doesn’t feel vulnerable, but she understands the concerns that others have who may in fact be more vulnerable.

Hicks said she has greater concern about what Americans do to each other as acts of terror.

“Politics in general – they don’t threaten, but they intimidate,” she said.

Travel concern

Edward Hudson

  • Age: 58
  • Hometown: Massillon
  • Occupation: Self-employed information processing business

Said he doesn't feel particularly vulnerable to terrorism. But someday he wants to go abroad.
"But when you travel ... it's a higher possibility ... I'd like to touch every continent, so I would be concerned about terrorism," he said.

Not feeling in danger

Susie Shea

  • Age: 28
  • Hometown: Kent
  • Occupation: Summit County employee

Said about terrorism, "do I think I'm in immediate danger, like going on my day-to-day life? No."
But she says the main way terrorism has affected her is when she travels and the issue of "what you can and can't bring on planes."

When told many terrorist attacks in Ohio have been against abortion clinics, Shea said, "I'm really not surprised. ... I think that was probably done from people that were born here. Not people from other countries."

Feeling safe in Ohio

Stevi Lunsford

  • Age: 24
  • Hometown: Canton
  • Occupation: Stark State College student

Says she lost a couple of family members in the Iraq war, believes terrorists are more interested in targeting the United States' largest cities, not Ohio. She said she feels safe here.

"We're not a target (in Ohio), it's not a place here like New York where we had the Trade Centers or the Pentagon or honestly Washington D.C. I mean there's places that are more important to people who want to take down America. So, in Ohio, I feel a lot more safe. But in those states, I wouldn't feel so comfortable."