In the U.S. and around the globe, the spread of nuclear weapons is seen as a major threat, but not overwhelmingly so. Those concerned, however, look to the U.S. for leadership.
Strengthening the nation's economy and improving the job situation continue to top nation's priority list. However, shifts have occurred on the priority give to two issues: energy (down) and the budget deficit (up). Extremely large partisan gaps exist on the importance of health care and global warming.
The government's ratings for reducing the threat of terrorism have slipped, and Americans are increasingly more concerned with safety than civil liberties. Domestically, few see an upside to health care reform, and the national mood remains grim. Yet President Obama's political standing is little affected, and his personal image remains positive.
A new survey of both the public and members of the Council on Foreign Relations finds an increasingly isolationist sentiment among Americans. The public also differs with CFR members on increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, the threat posed by China and the use of torture.
Just more than half (52%) of Americans say they are very concerned about the possible rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S., up from 46% in April 2007.
While both Americans and Western Europeans generally believe the "Af-Pak" region potentially poses significant threats to national security, they do not share a common view about the deployment of military forces in Afghanistan.
About six-in-ten Americans feel it is more important to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons with military force than to avoid conflict. However, most also approve of direct negotiations and tougher economic sanctions. The efficacy of diplomacy is questioned, though.
A solid majority of Americans continue to approve of Barack Obama’s job performance, although they express mixed views of several of his policies. Only about one-in-five Americans (21%) say the U.S. is less safe from terrorism under the Obama administration than under the Bush administration
Amid intense debate over the use of torture against suspected terrorists, public opinion about this issue remains about equally divided overall, although Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say it is at least sometimes justified.
Obama receives positive ratings for his handling of terrorism but the public remains deeply divided over how best to defend the nation against the threat.