Security Issues Rise After Brussels Attacks

More voters say security issues will be top of mind when they decide how to cast their ballots this year after terror attacks rocked Belgium’s largest city last week, a new Morning Consult survey finds.

Twenty-four percent of registered voters say security issues are their highest priority as they consider candidates for federal office this year, up seven points from a week ago. The spike is especially pronounced among Republican women, 41 percent of whom say security is their biggest concern, and voters who live in the Northeast, 28 percent of whom picked security.

A third of voters say the economy is their most important issue, down four points from the week prior.

Security issues tend to spike in voters’ consciousness in the wake of terror attacks. The percentage of voters who said security issues were their top concern doubled in the wake of deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino late last year.

Source: Morning Consult polling
Source: Morning Consult polling

But those jumps have been fleeting. In the months that followed both attacks, the number of security-first voters slumped to pre-attack levels.

Voters who pick security as their top issue tend to favor the two front-runners for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations. Fifty-nine percent of security voters say they plan to vote for Donald Trump, while just 47 percent who pick the economy as their top issue favor the New York billionaire. Trump consolidated his lead over his GOP presidential primary opponents, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in our national survey.

 March 24-26, 2016March 18-21, 2016March 16-18, 2016
Donald Trump49%45%43%
Ted Cruz28%26%27%
John Kasich10%13%14%
Someone Else5%6%7%
Don't Know/No Opinion8%10%10%

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton wins 53 percent of those who say security is their top issue; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wins just 29 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who called security a top concern. Clinton maintains a double-digit lead over Sanders in our national poll of voters’ support.

 March 24-26, 2016March 18-21, 2016March 16-18, 2016
Hillary Clinton50%51%49%
Bernie Sanders39%39%40%
Someone Else6%4%4%
Don't Know/No Opinion5%7%7%

The Morning Consult tracking poll surveyed 2,071 registered voters between March 24 and 26, for a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. See toplines and crosstabs.

Briefings

Washington Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise – along with a House staffer, lobbyist and Capitol Police officer – “an attack on all of us.” In addition to the show of unity at the 56th annual Congressional Baseball Game, lawmakers raised concerns about their own security and that of their district offices.

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