NEW YORK – 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|
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|
|Family values/morals (decline of)||5||3||4||5||5|
|Usama bin Laden||3||-||-||-||-|
|Campaign finance Reform||-||1||1||1||1|
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?
|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?
8. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate economic conditions today?
|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|
|7 Apr 00||All||38%||12||36||14|
|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|
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."
13. Would you favor or oppose the United States taking military action against groups that are identified as responsible for the terrorist attacks?
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?
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?
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?
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?
18. Do you believe the intelligence community is correct in saying that Usama bin Laden was responsible for the September 11th attacks?
19. Do you think the United States should attempt to assassinate Usama bin Laden?
20. Do you think it is likely that terrorist groups like bin Laden's currently have access to nuclear weapons?
|Yes, they do||63%||63%|
|No, they don’t||23||23|
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)
|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?
23. How confident are you in the U.S.’s ability to handle the problem of terrorism?
|Absolutely confident—we will win||36%||42%|
|Only somewhat confident||22||19|
|Not confident at all—there is no way to beat terrorism||4||4|
24. How long do you think this current war against terrorism will last?
|A few weeks||2%||1%|
|A few months||7||8|
|A year or more||83||83|
25. If you had to pick one country in the world right now, which one do you think is safest? (OPEN ENDED)
|None are safe||3|
26. How worried are you that terrorist attacks might take place where you live or work?
|Not very worried||31|
|Not worried at all||33|
|(vol. already has happened)||-|
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.
28. Rationing gasoline and oil to reduce the country's dependence on imports of Middle East oil.
29. Allowing the government to increase monitoring of private telephone and email communications.
30. Imposing stricter immigration and border crossing policies.
In the past week have you:
SCALE:1. Yes 2. No 3. (Not sure/Refused)
31. Said a prayer for peace?
32. Donated blood?
33. Donated money or clothing?
34. Bought a cell phone?
35. Cancelled or postponed travel plans?
36. Stocked up on canned food, bottled water, or other staples?
37. Made a special attempt to display the flag?
38. Made or renewed your commitment to your religious faith?
39. Do you think we need new safety procedures at airports, or do we just need to enforce existing safety procedures better?
|Enforce existing procedures||27|
40. Is there any American airport that you think is particularly dangerous because of bad security? (OPEN ENDED)
|(All the same)||22|
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
43. Armed marshals aboard random airline flights
44. A ban on carry-on baggage
45. Hand-searches of all bags