Americans are more afraid of terrorism than at any other time since 9/11’s immediate aftermath, according to a new poll. Meanwhile, Democrats find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to take seriously the man who declared tonight anyone who found guilty of killing a cop should be executed.

Nineteen percent of Americans think that terrorism is the most important problem facing the country today, the New York Times and CBS News poll found, up from 4 percent just a month ago. Seven in 10 likely Republican primary voters said Donald Trump was well-equipped to handle a terrorist threat and four in 10 were “very confident.”

From the Times:

Only Senator Ted Cruz of Texas comes close to those numbers.

But it is not only Republicans feeling renewed fear about terrorist strikes on American soil. Forty-four percent of the public says an attack is “very” likely to happen in the next few months, the most in Times or CBS News polls since October 2001, just after the deadliest terrorist assault in the country’s history. Seven in 10 Americans now call the Islamic State extremist group a major threat to the United States’ security, the highest level since the Times/CBS News poll began asking the question last year.

All of which is to say that nobody has capitalized better on the jingoistic expression of Americans’ existential dread than Donald Trump—so well, in fact, that establishment Democrats, seemingly to their great reluctance, have to start taking him seriously.

From the Times story—which ran under the headline, “To Democrats, Donald Trump Is No Longer a Laughing Matter”—on that shift:

In Washington on Thursday, Mrs. Clinton’s pollster, Joel Benenson, told a campaign briefing that he believed Mr. Trump would linger and be a “dominant” force, but that he could not predict whom the nominee would be, according to an attendee.

Former President Bill Clinton has been particularly intrigued by Mr. Trump’s appeal, referring to his campaign as ideal for what he dismissively calls an “Instagram election” of quick sound bites and easy responses (“Build a wall!” “Close the borders!”) to extremely complex problems, said one of these advisers with direct knowledge of Mr. Clinton’s conversations.

“I don’t know that anybody imagined how compelling the Trump candidacy would be,” said Paul Begala, a former adviser to Mr. Clinton. “He’s winning because the Republican Party is older, whiter and angrier than ever — but America’s not.”

“I think for weeks, you know you and everybody else were just bringing folks to hysterical laughter and all of that,” Hillary Clinton said in an appearance on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers on Thursday. (Hmm.) “But now he has gone way over the line. And what he’s saying now is not only shameful and wrong—it’s dangerous.”

Really though, the only thing more depressing than Trump himself is everyone pretending to be surprised about him.

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