Sixty-one percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of George W. Bush, about 20 points higher than his predecessor Bill Clinton's current rating (40 percent favorable). Bush also receives high marks on his job performance so far, with a 61 percent approval rating. For the president to have equally high personal and job ratings is something the country hasn't seen in a while. It was typical for former President Clinton to receive a high job approval rating at the same time as he received a much lower personal rating.

One cloud on the Bush horizon is the economy. Just in the last six weeks, those who rate current economic conditions as "excellent" or "good" has dropped from 59 percent to 46 percent. However, perhaps hinting at expectations for a short recession, people are actually more positive about the future of the economy, with 46 percent now saying it will be in better
shape a year from now compared to 36 percent who thought so in mid-January.

"One reason Bill Clinton's job approval stayed up despite the negative stories was the strength of his economy," commented Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Bush has to balance the desire of some his staff to use the weaker economy as an argument for his tax cuts with the danger of actually talking the economy into a recession by scaring consumers and business into cutbacks that aren't warranted by economic circumstances. Instant communication has created an instant economy and the danger of instant recession."

On the foreign policy front, a majority (63 percent) supports Bush's decision last week to authorize bombing Iraqi air defense sites. Iraq now ranks second when respondents are asked which country poses the greatest military threat to the United States, moving ahead of Russia for the first time. China is considered the greatest military threat by 30 percent of Americans (Iraq 24 percent, Russia 13 percent).

Fully 73 percent think Saddam Hussein is likely to retaliate for the air strikes by organizing terrorist attacks on the U.S. Even with the perceived military and terrorist threats Iraq and Saddam pose, only about one-third think the U.S. should try to assassinate Saddam. In December 1998, when U.S. warplanes bombed Baghdad after learning Iraq was not cooperating with United Nation's weapons inspectors, 51 percent said "yes" to the assassination question.

More on Presidential Pardons

By now almost everyone has heard about former President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich (88 percent), and a majority believes the pardon was granted in return for favors Clinton received from Rich's family and friends.

The pardon controversy has convinced about one-third of the public that the Constitution should be changed to limit future presidents' right to grant pardons; 50 percent oppose a change. Perhaps not understanding that it would require a Constitutional change, by almost two-to-one Americans think Congress should have the right to investigate and revoke presidential pardons (62 percent to 32 percent).

Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll Results

Polling was conducted by telephone February 21-22, 2001 in the evenings. The sample is 906 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. LV = likely voters

1. Considering how things are today, would you say that the U.S. is generally headed in the right direction, or is it off on the wrong track?

Right direction Undecided Wrong track
23 Feb 01 51% 20 29
12 Jan 01 53% 19 28
1 Dec 00 51% 15 34
3 Nov 00 60% 11 29

2. Considering just the moral climate of the U.S. today, would you say that the U.S. is generally headed in the right direction, or is it off on the wrong track?

Right direction Undecided Wrong track
23 Feb 01 31% 14 55
12 Jan 01 31% 14 55
1 Dec 00 31% 14 55
3 Nov 00 35% 11 54

3. I'm going to read the names of some prominent people. Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each one. If you've never heard of someone, please just say so. (Randomize) SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3. (Can't say) 4. (Never heard of)

George W. Bush:

  Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
23 Feb 01 61% 24 15 --
9 Feb 01 62% 27 11 --
26 Jan 01 61% 27 12 --
12 Jan 01 58% 31 11 --

4. Dick Cheney:

  Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
23 Feb 01 58% 17 21 4
9 Feb 01 61% 18 19 2
26 Jan 01 64% 16 17 3
12 Jan 01 57% 19 20 4

5. Bill Clinton:

  Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
23 Feb 01 40% 54 6 --
1 Dec 00 43% 51 6 --
3 Nov 00 45% 50 5 --
20 Oct 00 48% 49 3 --

6. Hillary Clinton:

  Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
23 Feb 01 44% 46 10 --
1 Dec 00 46% 47 7 --
3 Nov 00 46% 47 7 --
20 Oct 00 43% 48 9 --

7. Laura Bush:

  Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
23 Feb 01 57% 8 31 4
26 Jan 01 62% 6 28 4
12 Jan 01 49% 9 33 9
25 Aug 00 49% 10 34 7

8. Bill Gates:

  Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
23 Feb 01 68% 10 19 3
7 Apr 00 62% 17 17 4
22 May 98 56% 16 19 9

9. Microsoft Corporation:

All Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
23 Feb 01 64% 11 23 2
7 Apr 00 61% 15 20 4
  Favorable Unfavorable Not Sure*
22 May 98 54% 17 29
Computer Users Favorable Unfavorable (Can't Say) (Never Heard)
23 Feb 01 72% 12 15 1
7 Apr 00 70% 18 12 --
  Favorable Unfavorable Not Sure*
22 May 98 67% 17 16
* Combined can't say/never heard

10. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?

  Approve Disapprove Don't Know
23 Feb 01 61% 16 23
9 Feb 01 55% 16 29
26 Jan 01 46% 14 40

11. Which country in the world do you think is the greatest military threat to the U.S. today?

  23 Feb 01 9 Apr 99* 30 May 97*
(China) 30% 39% 31%
(Iraq) 24 9 13
(Russia) 13 20 15
(Iran) 3 2 6
(Germany) -- 1 1
(India) -- --
(Pakistan) 1 --
(Serbia) -- 1
(Other) 4 7 10
(No one is a threat) -- 3 4
(Dk/Ref) 25 18 20
* With the Cold War over, which country do you think is the greatest potential military threat to the U.S.?

Which country in the world do you think is the greatest economic threat to the U.S. today?

  23 Feb 01 9 Apr 99* 30 May 97*
(Japan) 28% 27% 43%
(China) 23 26 21
(Mexico) 3 2 2
(Russia) 2 4 3
(Great Britain/England) 1 2 1
(France) -- -- --
(Germany) 1 2 2
(Other) 7 8 5
(No one is a threat) -- 5 4
(Dk/Ref) 35 24 19
* Which country do you think is the greatest potential economic threat to the U.S.?

13. President Bush authorized U.S. and British aircraft to bomb Iraqi air defense sites near Baghdad last Friday. Do you support or oppose the president's decision to authorize the bombing?

Support 63%
Oppose 22
(Not sure) 15

14. How likely do you think it is that Saddam Hussein will organize terrorist attacks on United States targets to retaliate for the air strikes?

  23 Feb 01 18 Dec 98(±4%)
Very Likely 37% 36%
Somewhat likely 36 39
Not very likely 14 14
Not at all likely 6 6
(Not sure) 7 5

15. Do you think the United States should attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein?

  Yes No (Dk/Ref)
23 Feb 01 34% 52 14
18 Dec 98 (±4%) 51% 39 10
13 Nov 98 40% 50 10
14 Nov 97 33% 58 9

16. Have you heard or read about former President Clinton granting a presidential pardon to Mark Rich, a businessman who has been in exile in Switzerland since being accused of rigging oil prices and avoiding taxes?

  23 Feb 01 9 Feb 01
Yes, heard or read about it 88% 72%
No, have not heard or read about it 12 26
(Not sure) -- 2

17. In the case of the pardon granted to Marc Rich, do you think this represents justice done or justice denied?

  23 Feb 01 9 Feb 01*
Justice done 9% 8%
Justice denied 71 75
(Not sure) 20 17

18. Which of the following do you think is more likely to be the reason former President Clinton pardoned Marc Rich:

  23 Feb 01 9 Feb 01
The facts supported a pardon, or 13% 9%
Clinton received contributions
and favors from Rich's friends and family
65 68
(Not sure) 22 23

19. Would you favor or oppose changing the Constitution to limit future presidents' right to grant pardons?

Favor changing the Constitution 35%
Oppose changing the Constitution 50
(Not sure) 15

20. In general, do you think Congress should have the right to investigate and revoke presidential pardons?

Yes 62%
No 32
(Not sure) 6

21. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate economic conditions today?

  Excellent Good Fair Poor (Dk)
23 Feb 01 5% 41 44 9 1
12 Jan 01 9% 50 29 10 2
LV 20 Oct 00 19% 54 20 6 1
30 Jun 00 13% 49 27 9 2
22 Oct 99 13% 48 32 6 1
LV 30 Oct 98 11% 54 25 8 1
30 Oct 98 12% 57 24 6 1
LV 9 Oct 98 10% 51 30 8 1
9 Oct 98 11% 49 32 7 1
11 Sep 98 12% 49 31 7 1
2 Jul 98 16% 45 30 8 1

22. A year from now, do you think the economy will be better or worse? Is that a lot (better/worse) or only a little (better/worse)? 

SCALE: 1. A lot better 2. A little better 3. A little worse
  4. A lot worse 5. (Not sure) 6. (No change)
  A lot
better
Little
better
Little
worse
A lot
worse
Not
sure
No
change
23 Feb 01 9% 37 23 11 12 8
12 Jan 01 9% 27 25 13 13 13
LV 20 Oct 00 10% 28 19 4 18 21
30 Jun 00 7% 30 23 9 17 14
LV 30 Oct 98 10% 32 24 12 10 12
30 Oct 98 10% 32 26 11 10 11
LV 9 Oct 98 10% 33 28 11 18 --
9 Oct 98 10% 36 26 11 17 --
2 Jul 98 9% 43 22 9 17 --

23. Do you use a computer on a regular basis, either at home or at work? SCALE: 1. Yes 2. No 3. (Not sure)

  Yes No (Not sure)
23 Feb 01 64% 36 -
7 Apr 00 67% 32 1
22 May 98 61% 37 2

24. Do you think software buyers have a real choice of which computer software products they buy or do you think that Microsoft produces most of the products that are available?

All Yes, choice No choice (Not sure)
23 Feb 01 33% 39 28
7 Apr 00 48% 33 19
22 May 98 43% 29 28
Computer Users Yes, choice No choice (Not sure)
23 Feb 01 38% 47 15
7 Apr 00 57% 36 7
22 May 98 52% 35 13

25. Do you think it would be good or bad for computer users: SCALE: 1. Good 2. Bad 3. (Not sure)

If Microsoft is forced to change its business practices:
  Good Bad (Not sure)
23 Feb 01 29% 36 35

26. If Microsoft is broken up into several smaller companies:

  Good Bad (Not sure)
23 Feb 01 31% 38 31

27. If Microsoft is mostly left alone:

  Good Bad (Not sure)
23 Feb 01 48% 23 29

28. Convicted Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh has asked to have his execution televised. Do you think that the execution should be televised or not?

Yes 18%
No 78
(Not sure) 4

29. What if it was televised on pay TV and the revenue went to a fund for the victims and their families, then do you think it should be televised or not?

Yes 37%
No 59
(Not sure) 4

30. Do you regularly watch reality TV shows such as Temptation Island, Survivor, or The Mole?

Yes 24%
No 76
(Not sure) -

31. Which do you think is most realistic?

Temptation Island 15%
Survivor 51
The Mole 6
(Not sure) 28

32. Would you rather be:

Stranded on an island to test your stamina and endurance, or 26%
Taken to a luxurious resort to test your fidelity to your mate? 43
(Not sure) 31