A week after the worst terrorist attack on American soil, the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics national poll shows that half the American public thinks the United States is the safest place in the world to be. While the other half are divided about where else might be safer, they are uncertain about the safety of their homeland. When asked to pick the safest country in the world, the U.S. received 51 percent, trailed by Australia and Canada (both 7 percent), and Switzerland (6 percent).

At the same time, while the events of September 11 may have sapped the sense of safety, they seem to have instilled a sense of purpose. One sign of this is a large jump in those believing the country is generally headed in the right direction (71 percent up from 51 percent in July), and a complete turnaround in attitudes toward the moral climate of the country.

Country's Moral Climate

  Right Direction Wrong Track
Today 64% 23
July '01 33% 56

As other polls have reported, Americans also give extremely high marks to President Bush for the job he has done in responding to the terrorist attacks. Bush's overall job performance rating has risen substantially, currently standing at 81 percent, up from 55 percent in late August. Fully 88 percent approve of the job Bush has done specifically in handling the country's response to the attacks.

An overwhelming majority (89 percent) favors the U.S. taking military action against those responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Support remains strong even when qualifiers are placed on the military action, such as lives lost or prolonged war. As might be expected, support is slightly stronger among those with a military connection, either as current or past military personnel or as a military family member.

Most endorse increased spending on national defense and intelligence (including 90 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Democrats), even if it takes money away from social programs.

"The people have clearly rallied behind the president in this time of crisis and they’ve also found a core of belief in themselves and their country," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Bush is going to have to use that reservoir of trust to reassure people about security and economic concerns on regular basis. I think people desperately need some concrete sign from the government that it is in control of events and on the right path—the 2001 equivalent of the Doolittle raid on Tokyo."

Among the confidence there are signs of concern. Less than 4 in 10 are "absolutely confident" in the country's ability to handle the problem of terrorism. The number that believes U.S.-owned airlines are safer than foreign-owned airlines has dropped more than 20 percent. And of course, there is concern about the economy.

While a majority thinks terrorism/war is the most important issue facing the country today, about a third say the top issue is the economy. Only 29 percent rate the current economy as "excellent" or "good" -- that's down from 42 percent in July and down from 73 percent about a year ago. And just over half of Americans think the recent attacks make it more likely the country will go into a recession. Even so, 65 percent think the economy will be in better shape a year from now (20 percent say worse).

In the past week an overwhelming majority have said a prayer for peace, and most have made a special attempt to display the flag. About half say they have made or renewed their commitment to their religious faith. And finally, about one person in ten is stocking up on food and water.

Polling was conducted by telephone September 19-20, 2001 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points. LV = likely voters. "Military connection" = members or veterans of the U.S. armed forces or those with a close relative currently serving in the armed forces (n=382). ** NOTE: About 80% of the interviews were completed before the beginning of Bush’s speech. The results of the entire survey and the interviews completed before the speech show no statistically significant differences of any kind.

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
21 Sept 01 71% 17 12
13 July 01 51% 15 34
20 Apr 01 52% 19 29
23 Feb 01 51% 20 29
12 Jan 01 53% 19 28

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
21 Sept 01 64% 13 23
13 July 01 33% 11 56
20 Apr 01 32% 13 55
23 Feb 01 31% 14 55
12 Jan 01 31% 14 55

3. What do you think are the two most important issues for the federal government to address? (Do Not Read)

  21 Sept 01 8 Jun 01 30 Mar 01 12 Jan 01 11 Aug 00
Terrorism 52% - - - -
Economy 30 17 18 19 9
War 14 - - - -
Education 12 31 29 32 33
Defense 7 8 5 7 8
Health care 6 16 15 23 20
Family values/morals (decline of) 5 3 4 5 5
Social security 5 14 13 15 22
September 11 4 - - - -
Security 4 - - - -
Foreign policy 4 6 4 6 5
Usama bin Laden 3 - - - -
Taxes 3 22 31 13 16
Employment/jobs 3 3 3 4 3
Medicare/Medicaid Reform 2 10 9 10 10
Crime/drugs 2 6 5 7 7
Immigration 2 - - 1 -
Environment 1 10 6 4 3
Welfare 1 3 2 3 4
Federal deficit 1 1 2 2 2
Balanced budget 1 4 4 4 4
Poverty/Homelessness 1 3 1 2 2
Abortion 1 2 2 4 5
Race relations 1 1 - - 1
Child care 1 - 1 - 1
Campaign finance Reform - 1 1 1 1
Gun Control - 3 3 2 3
IRS problems - - - - -
Other 1 1 5 3 4
(Don’t know/Ref) 5 4 7 6 7

I'm going to read the names of some political figures. 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.
SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3. (Can't say) 4. (Never heard of) (ROTATE)

4. George W. Bush

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
21 Sept 01 79% 13 8 -
24 Aug 01 56% 36 8 -
27 July 01 59% 29 11 1
13 July 01 61% 31 8 -
8 June 01 59% 31 9 1

5. Rudy Giuliani

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't Say Never Heard
21 Sept 00 76% 6 10 8
11 Feb 00 39% 18 24 19
4 June 99 29% 19 22 30
30 Oct 98 31% 12 20 37
31 July 98 27% 10 18 45

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

  Approve Disapprove (DK)
21 Sept 01 81% 12 7
24 Aug 01 55% 32 13
27 July 01 59% 25 16
13 July 01 56% 30 14
8 June 01 59% 28 13
11 May 01 59% 26 15

7. And, do you approve or disapprove of the job Bush has done in responding to the terrorist attacks on September 11th?

Approve 88%
Disapprove 8
(Not sure) 4

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

  Excellent Good Fair Poor (Dk)
21 Sept 01 4% 25 45 24 2
13 July 01 4% 38 44 13 1
20 Apr 01 4% 35 45 14 2
16 Mar 01 3% 36 42 18 1
23 Feb 01 5% 41 44 9 1
12 Jan 01 9% 50 29 10 2

9. 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)?

  A lot Better A little Better A little Worse A lot Worse Not Sure No Change
21 Sept 01 28% 37 12 8 10 5
13 July 01 15% 39 17 10 10 9
20 Apr 01 12% 40 19 8 9 12
23 Feb 01 9% 37 23 11 12 8
12 Jan 01 9% 27 25 13 13 13

10. A year from now, do you think the stock market will be higher, lower or about the same as it is now?
SCALE: 1. Higher 2. Lower 3. The same 4. (Not sure)

21 Sept 01   55% 10 26 9
16 Mar 01 All 49% 13 28 10
  Investors 58% 11 25 6
7 Apr 00 All 38% 12 36 14
  Investors 42% 13 36 9
11 Sept 98   33% 13 38 16
9 Jan 98   32% 14 39 15
5 Sept 97   32% 16 33 19
7 Mar 97   22% 26 32 20

11. Do you think the recent terrorist attacks make it more likely the country will go into an economic recession or less likely the country will go into a recession?

More likely to have recession 55%
Less likely to have recession 29
(Makes no difference) 6
(Not sure) 10

12. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon constitute an 'act of war' on our country."

  All Military Connection
Agree 88% 92%
Disagree 9 7
(Don’t know) 3 1

13. Would you favor or oppose the United States taking military action against groups that are identified as responsible for the terrorist attacks?

  All Military Connection Dem GOP Ind
Favor 89% 92% 87% 93% 87%
Oppose 6 5 8 5 7
(Not sure) 5 3 5 2 6

14. (If favor or not sure) Would you favor or oppose the United States taking military action even if it meant thousands of American soldiers' lives would be lost?

  All Military Connection
Favor 75% 82%
Oppose 14 10
(Not sure) 11 8

15: (If 13: favor or not sure) Would you favor or oppose the United States taking military action if it cost the lives of thousands of civilians in the countries we attack?

  All Military Connection
Favor 63% 69%
Oppose 26 22
(Not sure) 11 9

16. (If 13: favor or not sure) Would you favor or oppose the United States taking military action even if it meant a war lasting up to five years?

  All Military Connection
Favor 72% 74%
Oppose 18 16
(Not sure) 10 10

17. Would you favor or oppose the United States taking military action against any nation found to be aiding or hiding the September 11th terrorists?

  All Military Connection
Favor 83% 86%
Oppose 11 7
(Not sure) 6 7

18. Do you believe the intelligence community is correct in saying that Usama bin Laden was responsible for the September 11th attacks?

  All Military Connection
Yes 73% 75%
No 5 4
(Not sure) 22 21

19. Do you think the United States should attempt to assassinate Usama bin Laden?

  All Military Connection
Yes 66% 72%
No 23 19
(Not sure) 11 9

20. Do you think it is likely that terrorist groups like bin Laden's currently have access to nuclear weapons?

  All Military Connection
Yes, they do 63% 63%
No, they don’t 23 23
(Not sure) 14 14

21. Which do you think presents more of a real danger right now?
SCALE: 1. Nuclear weapons 2. Chemical and biological weapons 3. (Equal) 4. (Not sure)

  Nuclear Chemical/Bio (Equal) (Dk)
21 Sept 01 13% 75 - 12
11 May 01 9% 69 14 8
18 Dec 98 (+4%) 13% 70 10 7

22. Do you support or oppose the federal government spending more on national defense and intelligence even if it means that there will be less funding available for social programs?

  All Military Connection Dem GOP Ind
Support 79% 81% 70% 90% 78%
Oppose 14 12 21 5 16
(Not sure) 7 7 9 5 6

23. How confident are you in the U.S.’s ability to handle the problem of terrorism?

  All Military Connection
Absolutely confident—we will win 36% 42%
Pretty confident 37 34
Only somewhat confident 22 19
Not confident at all—there is no way to beat terrorism 4 4
(Not sure) 1 1

24. How long do you think this current war against terrorism will last?

  All Military Connection
A few weeks 2% 1%
A few months 7 8
A year or more 83 83
(Not sure) 8 8

25. If you had to pick one country in the world right now, which one do you think is safest? (OPEN ENDED)

USA 51%
Australia/New Zealand 7
Canada 7
Switzerland 6
Scandinavia 3
Europe 2
England/Ireland 2
Iceland/Greenland 1
Israel 1
Asia 1
Other 3
None are safe 3
(Don’t know/Ref) 13

26. How worried are you that terrorist attacks might take place where you live or work?

Very worried 11%
Worried 24
Not very worried 31
Not worried at all 33
(vol. already has happened) -
(Not sure) 1

Please tell me if you support or oppose each of the following possible solutions that have been proposed as ways of dealing with terrorism.
SCALE: 1. Favor 2. Oppose 3. (Not sure)

27. Allowing police to stop and search anyone who fits the general description of suspected terrorists.

Favor Oppose (Dk)
69% 26 5

28. Rationing gasoline and oil to reduce the country's dependence on imports of Middle East oil.

Favor Oppose (Dk)
53% 40 7

29. Allowing the government to increase monitoring of private telephone and email communications.

Favor Oppose (Dk)
54% 39 7

30. Imposing stricter immigration and border crossing policies.

Favor Oppose (Dk)
92% 5 3

In the past week have you:
SCALE:1. Yes 2. No 3. (Not sure/Refused)

31. Said a prayer for peace?

Yes No (Dk/Ref)
91% 9 -

32. Donated blood?

Yes No (Dk/Ref)
10% 90 -

33. Donated money or clothing?

Yes No (Dk/Ref)
63% 37 -

34. Bought a cell phone?

Yes No (Dk/Ref)
4% 96 -

35. Cancelled or postponed travel plans?

Yes No (Dk/Ref)
12% 87 1

36. Stocked up on canned food, bottled water, or other staples?

Yes No (Dk/Ref)
9% 91 -

37. Made a special attempt to display the flag?

Yes No (Dk/Ref)
80% 20 -

38. Made or renewed your commitment to your religious faith?

Yes No (Dk/Ref)
52% 46 2

39. Do you think we need new safety procedures at airports, or do we just need to enforce existing safety procedures better?

New procedures 70%
Enforce existing procedures 27
(Not sure) 3

40. Is there any American airport that you think is particularly dangerous because of bad security? (OPEN ENDED)

(Boston Logan) 7%
(Other) 12
(All the same) 22
(No/Not sure) 59

41. Do you think U.S.-owned airlines are safer than foreign airlines, or not?
SCALE: 1. U.S. safer 2. U.S. not safer 3. (Some safer; some worse) 4. (Not sure)

  U.S. safer U.S. not safer (Some safer; some worse) (Dk)
21 Sept 01 35% 32 13 20
5 Nov 99 58% 14 9 19
26 July 96 64% 11 7 18

Do you favor or oppose each of the following proposed airport security measures?
SCALE: 1. Favor 2. Oppose 3. (Not sure)

42. A 25-dollar per ticket fee to pay for increased security

Favor Oppose (Dk)
68% 26 6

43. Armed marshals aboard random airline flights

Favor Oppose (Dk)
89% 8 3

44. A ban on carry-on baggage

Favor Oppose (Dk)
58% 36 6

45. Hand-searches of all bags

Favor Oppose (Dk)
87% 9 4