Americans Predict Major Terrorist Attack On United States In Next Decade

A new Harris Poll measures how many people expect various events will happen in the next decade, in the next 50 years and in the rest of the 21st century. Large majorities believe that all 15 events on the list will happen eventually, and that many of them will happen sometime in this century. However, only one of them -- a major terrorist attack on the U.S. -- is seen by a majority (54 percent) as likely to happen in the next 10 years.

Other events that are seen as likely to occur in the next 10 years by sizable minorities are electing a female president (35 percent), China replacing the U.S. as the world's most powerful economic country (30 percent), a biological or chemical attack on the U.S. (29 percent), and that global warming and climate change will have a big impact (22 percent). 

At the other (least likely) end of the spectrum, very few people expect that in the next decade there will be an end to the obesity epidemic (7 percent), a nuclear war (8 percent), a revolution overthrowing the U.S. government (8 percent), or that smoking tobacco will almost disappear (9 percent).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,331 adults surveyed online between December 6 and 13 by Harris Interactive.

Majorities of all adults believe that the following are likely to occur in the next 50 years:

  • A major terrorist attack on the U.S. (79 percent).
  • A female will be president (82 percent).
  • China will replace the U.S. as the world's most powerful economic country (62 percent).
  • An attack on the U.S. using chemical or biological weapons (60 percent).
  • Most energy in the U.S. will come from renewable sources (52 percent).
  • A cure for cancer (52 percent).

Majorities of all adults believe that the following are likely to happen in the next 90 years:

  • Global warming and climate change will have a big impact (70 percent).
  • A new political party will replace the Republicans or the Democrats as one of the two largest parties (62 percent).
  • A massive water shortage (63 percent).
  • Life expectancy will be 100 years or more (63 percent).
  • Most people (75 percent) believe that that eventually human life on Earth will end, but only 19 percent think that will happen in the 21st century.
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