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By Ashley Portero | September 14, 2012 10:53 AM PDT

Republicans are no longer perceived as the party that's tougher on terrorism.

A Gallup poll released Thursday shows Democrats have made serious strides when it comes to voter perception on which party is stronger on national security issues. In response to a question about which party would be better able to protect the nation from international terrorism and military threats, 45 percent of respondents named the Democratic Party while another 45 percent named the Republican Party. 

Since 2002, the only times the Republicans have not led on that issue were in 2006 and 2007, which Gallup attributes to public concerns regarding the Iraq War during the George W. Bush administration.

The poll was conducted between Sept. 6-9, before the wave of attacks on U.S. consulates in the Middle East this week that led to the death of four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. The spree of violence in the region has brought foreign policy to the forefront of the presidential election, with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in particular framing the incidents as evidence of President Barack Obama's weak leadership in the region.

However, in the same Gallup poll, 51 percent of respondents said they believed the Democratic Party is more capable of keeping the U.S. prosperous (compared to 42 percent who said the same of Republicans). And Democrats also held a 10-percentage-point lead when it comes to which party respondents' said could handle whatever they believe is the nation's "most important problem," indicating that, despite the violence that occurred in the Middle East this week, most of those respondents likely believe Obama -- who already has a formidable record when it comes to confronting terrorism abroad --  can be trusted to fight terrorism and protect Americans abroad.

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