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(CNN) -- Attitudes about terrorism have evolved since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Initially, the public believed that Republicans would not only handle the issue of terrorism better than Democrats, but would also do a better job at protecting the public.

In 2006, despite Republican attempts to paint the Democrats as unable to handle terrorism, a majority of voters in exit polls said they believed both parties were capable of handling that issue.

And terrorism remains a top concern among voters. In exit polls, 40 percent ranked terrorism as "extremely important" to their vote.

Special report: Fighting Terror
Can the GOP use terrorism to win -- again?
Patriot Act
October 24, 2001: The House passes by a vote of 357-66.
October 25, 2001: The Senate passes by a vote of 98-1.

Patriot Act Reauthorization
March 2, 2006: The Senate passes by a vote of 89-10.
March 7, 2006: The House passes by a vote of 280-138.
September 11, 2001: Terrorists fly hijacked passenger planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in a coordinated attack against the United States. A fourth hijacked plane crashes in a Pennsylvania field.
July 7, 2005: Bombs detonate in three of London's crowded subway trains and aboard a city bus, killing dozens.
March 9, 2006: President Bush signs the re-authorization of the Patriot Act.
August 10, 2006: British authorities uncover a plot to detonate bombs on planes bound for the U.S. from Great Britain.
August 17, 2006: A U.S. District Court judge rules that the government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional. The Justice Department says it will appeal the decision.
Timeline: Terrorism key dates
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How safe are we as a country from terrorist attacks compared to before September 11, 2001?
Results based on a phone survey of 1,033 adult Americans conducted on August 18-20, 2006, by Opinion Research Corporation, with a sampling error of +/-3% points. Numbers may add up to more than 100% due to rounding.
How important is the terrorism issue to your vote for Congress?
Results based on a phone survey of 1,047 adult Americans conducted on September 22-24, 2006, by Opinion Research Corporation, with a sampling error of +/-4.5% points. Numbers may add up to more than 100% due to rounding.
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