In their fourth annual Survey of American Fears, Chapman University found several new fears entered the top ten, and they explore worries over extremism in the age of Trump. The university’s 2017 surveyed 1,207 adult respondents from across the country who were asked about 80 different fears. The categories ranged from fears about the government, the environment, terrorism, health, natural disasters, and finances, as well as fears of public speaking, spiders, heights, ghosts and many other personal anxieties.
The 2017 survey shows that the top 10 things Americans fear the most are:
1) Corruption of government officials (same top fear as 2015 and 2016)
2) American Healthcare Act/Trumpcare (new fear)
3) Pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes (new in top 10)
4) Pollution of drinking water (new in top 10)
5) Not having enough money in the future
6) High medical bills
7) The U.S. will be involved in another world war (new fear)
8) Global warming and climate change
9) North Korea using weapons (new fear)
10) Air pollution
The researchers this year also took a closer look at one particular fear-related phenomena: fear of extremism. Three out of five surveyed said they are very afraid or afraid of Islamic Extremists/Jihadists as a threat to national security. However a majority of Americans, 51 percent, also view White Supremacists as a threat to national security.
The political divisions that exist in America were reflected onto which group represented the greatest threat. While other types of extremist groups are a concern to large groups of Americans, only those [Islamic Extremists/Jihadists and White Supremacists] were identified by a majority of survey respondents. Roughly one-third of Americans identify the following four as threats: Extreme Anti-Immigration groups, the Militia/Patriot Movement, Left-Wing Revolutionaries, and Extreme Anti-Abortion groups. One in five Americans is afraid Extreme Environmentalists are a threat. […]
In other words in the age of Trump some calls (threats) are coming from inside the house (country). This fear affects the daily lives of Americans and even leads some to question the value of American freedom — 29 percent of Americans report being very afraid or afraid of being a victim of hate crime. One-third agree or strongly agree with the statement, “In order to curb terrorism in this country, it will be necessary to give up some civil liberties.” Even more, 35 percent, disagree or strongly disagree with the statement, “We should preserve our freedoms even if it increases the risk of terrorism.” As has been seen before, elevated fears over national security can lead to lower support for national values. [added emphasis]
Well, on the “bright” side — from Trump’s perspective, that is — I guess only 65 percent agree with the statement, “We should preserve our freedoms even if it increases the risk of terrorism.” Is it time to join the ACLU?
About the survey: the sample used for the Chapman University Survey of American Fears mirrors the demographic characteristics of the U.S. Census. For additional methodological details, see the full report.