Americans see illegal immigration, loss of jobs to foreign countries, natural disaster and energy shortage as events most likely to be major threats to the US in the next five years.
Two of these possible threats are seen as extremely or very likely by over half of the public, according to a Harris Poll released on Monday, with 55 per cent of all adults putting a large number of illegal immigrants coming in at the top.
A significant loss of jobs to foreign countries comes next with 52 per cent of adults believing it would be an extremely or very likely threat, according to the results of an online survey of 1,508 US adults January 5-12. However, because split samples were used, each individual item on the list was asked of between 400 and 500 adults.
The only other possible event seen as an extremely or very likely threat by more than 40 per cent of all adults is a significant natural disaster destroying areas of a major city (43 per cent).
Almost as many - 40 per cent - think that US energy needs exceeding supplies is an extremely or very likely threat. Thirty-five per cent feel that a trade imbalance leading to foreign ownership of US debt and property is an extremely or very likely threat.
Substantial but smaller percentages of Americans feel that various types of terrorist attacks are a threat while 26 per cent think that attacks against a number of airplanes is an extremely or very likely threat. A 24 per cent think that an attack with biological weapons is an extremely or very likely threat. However, fewer people (14 per cent) think an attack with a nuclear weapon is an extremely or very likely threat.
Relatively few people think any of the following as extremely or very likely threats: a major stock market crash (11 per cent); a large-scale avian flu epidemic (11 per cent); the banking system experiencing a major financial collapse (14 per cent); a world war (15 per cent); major riots by groups within the US (20 per cent).
There are a few potential threats that are viewed as more or less likely by Republicans and Democrats. Specifically: Republicans (73 per cent) are much more likely than Democrats (43 per cent) to see large-scale illegal immigration as an extremely or very likely threat.
Democrats (57 per cent) are somewhat more likely than Republicans (42 per cent) to see a significant loss of jobs to foreign countries as an extremely or very likely threat. Democrats (35 per cent) are three times more likely than Republicans (12 per cent) to see the government not being able to borrow money, due to the debt load. Democrats are also much more likely to see a significant rise in ocean levels as a very or extremely likely threat (31 per cent vs 11 per cent).