Americans remain solidly supportive of President Bush on the war on terrorism and as the new year begins, many have an increasingly optimistic outlook on the country's economy.

As has been the case in all FOX News/Opinion Dynamics polls since September 11, more than 8 in 10 Americans approve of Bush's overall job performance. When asked about his handling of the war on terrorism, the number climbs to 89 percent. However, on issues closer to home, such as the economy, Bush's approval rating drops to 59 percent.

While the condition of the economy is considered to be "excellent" or "good" by less than half the number that thought so a year ago, much of the public is optimistic about the economy's future. More than 70 percent think the economy will be in better shape a year from now, and 81 percent feel confident about their own financial future (36 percent feel "very" confident).

The poll found 55 percent think the recession is coming to an end, a double-digit increase from just three weeks ago. Less than one-third believe we are headed deeper into economic decline. These numbers track with the public's expectations for the coming year in general. Fully 69 percent of Americans believe 2002 will be better than 2001, while 23 think the year ahead will be the same or worse than last year.

Glancing Toward 2004

If Americans were voting for president right now, about half say they would vote to re-elect President Bush, 21 percent for the Democratic candidate, and 30 percent think it depends on the Democratic candidate or are undecided. Among self-described Democrats, former Vice President Al Gore is the top choice for the party's nominee, with New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman rounding out the top three choices.

"While Bush is in the strongest shape of any president in a long while, if the issues shift back toward domestic policy questions such as health care, Social Security, and so on, Bush’s rating is bound to drop, " comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Even on his stronger issues, 60 percent support is a lot less than the 90 percent he has enjoyed on the war effort. There is going to be a temptation to overstate the meaning of these lower levels of support on other issues because they’ll be compared to the high levels of the last couple of months rather than to the ratings of other relatively popular presidents such as Reagan and Clinton."

When compared to Bush, 42 percent think Gore, if he had been elected, would be doing a better job or the same job handling the war on terrorism as Bush is doing and 46 percent think he would be doing worse than Bush. The numbers are more favorable to Gore on handling the economy — 53 think Gore would be doing a better or the same job as Bush and 34 think he would be doing worse.

Trials of Accused Terrorists

More than half of Americans think the federal trials of accused terrorists, such as Zacarias Moussaoui, the man many believe was supposed to be the 20th suicide hijacker on September 11, should not be televised, even as 54 percent say they would watch if it were. Similarly, a majority opposed televising the Oklahoma City bombing trial in 1997, just as a majority said then that they would watch if it were made available.

Televised or not, most are confident (45 percent "very" and 32 percent "somewhat" confident) that accused terrorists will receive fair trials in the U.S.

Polling was conducted by telephone January 9-10, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. In general, was 2001 a better or worse year for you than 2000?

  Better Worse (Same) (Not sure)
9-10 Jan 02 36% 36 25 3
13-14 Jan 99 58% 18 22 2

2. Do you expect 2002 to be a better or worse year for you than 2001?

  Better Worse (Same) (Not sure)
9-10 Jan 02 69% 10 13 8
13-14 Jan 99 68% 6 14 12

 

3. If the 2004 presidential election were held today, do you think you would be more likely to vote (to re-elect President Bush) or (for the Democratic candidate)?

1. Re-elect Bush 49%
2. Vote for Democrat 21
3. (Depends on Democrat/too soon to say) 14
4. (Not sure/undecided) 16

4. Which of the following potential candidates would you most like to see the Democrats nominate for president in 2004? (randomize)

  ALL Dem GOP Ind
1. House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt 7% 8% 7% 5%
2. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry 5 3 6 5
3. Former Vice President Al Gore 16 26 10 12
4. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle 7 8 6 9
5. North Carolina Senator John Edwards 2 2 3 1
6. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman 9 10 8 11
7. New York Senator Hillary Clinton 11 16 5 12
8. Reverend Al Sharpton 3 * 5 3
9. (Someone else/Other) 4 2 7 2
10. (Not sure) 36 24 44 39

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

  Approve  Disapprove (DK)
11 Jan 02 83% 10 7
14 Dec 01 86% 8 6
30 Nov 01 86% 6 8
16 Nov 01 88% 7 5
2 Nov 01 84% 8 8

6. - 13. Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing on the following issues?
SCALE: 1. Approve 2. Disapprove 3. (Don't know)

Managing foreign affairs

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
11 Jan 02 79% 12 9
8 June 01 55% 23 22
30 Mar 01 52% 22 26

Setting energy policy

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
11 Jan 02 45% 27 28
8 June 01 38% 43 19
30 Mar 01 39% 33 28

Setting tax policy

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
11 Jan 02 58% 28 14
8 June 01 59% 29 12
30 Mar 01 54% 31 15

 

Setting education policy

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
11 Jan 02 66% 18 16
8 June 01 52% 26 22
30 Mar 01 57% 20 23

 

Setting environmental policy

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
11 Jan 02 44% 31 25
8 June 01 40% 41 19

 

Managing the economy

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
11 Jan 02 59% 27 14
8 June 01 52% 29 19
30 Mar 01 52% 27 21

Dealing with Congress

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
11 Jan 02 70% 13 17

Handling terrorism

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
11 Jan 02 89% 6 5
19 Oct 01* 89% 7 4
5 Oct 01* 86% 7 7
21 Sept 01* 88% 8 4

* Wording: "responding to the terrorist attacks"

14. - 24. Who do you trust more to provide leadership on each of the following issues?
SCALE: 1. The Republicans in Congress 2. The Democrats in Congress 3. (Equal) 4. (Neither) 5. (Not sure)

The economy

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 44% 34 7 3 12
13 July 01 36% 35 13 8 8

The environment

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 29% 46 7 4 14
13 July 01 26% 47 11 7 9

Education

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 42% 34 10 4 10
13 July 01 37% 33 15 7 8

Taxes

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 45% 34 5 5 11
13 July 01 42% 31 10 9 8

Health care

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 32% 42 7 5 14
13 July 01 31% 40 12 8 9

Energy

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 35% 35 8 4 18
13 July 01 33% 37 12 8 10

Military defense

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 62% 16 8 3 11
13 July 01 51% 23 12 5 9

Terrorism

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 57% 14 14 4 11

Family values

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 49% 28 8 5 10
13 July 01 42% 24 15 10 9

Social Security

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 32% 42 6 6 14
13 July 01 31% 37 13 10 9

Bi-partisanship

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Neither) (Dk)
11 Jan 02 32% 25 10 10 23

25. If Al Gore had become president, do you think he would be doing a better job than President Bush handling the war on terrorism, a worse job, or about the same kind of job as Bush?

1. Gore would be doing better 10%
2. Gore would be doing worse 46
3. Same 32
4. (Not sure) 12

26. If Al Gore had become president, do you think he would be doing a better job than President Bush handling the economy, a worse job, or about the same kind of job as Bush?

1. Gore would be doing better 26%
2. Gore would be doing worse 34
3. Same 27
4. (Not sure) 13

27. Do you support or oppose the U.S. military action being taken in response to the terrorist attacks? (*before 17-18 Oct 01 "would you favor/oppose")

  Support Oppose (Not sure)
9-10 Jan 02      
All 90% 5 5
Democrat 84% 8 8
GOP 98% 1 1
Independent 89% 7 4
12-13 Dec 01 91% 6 3
28-29 Nov 01 91% 5 4
14-15 Nov 01 91% 6 3
31 Oct-1 Nov 01 87% 8 5
17-18 Oct 01 89% 6 5
3-4 Oct 01 82% 8 10
19-20 Sept 01      
All 89% 6 5
Democrat 87% 8 5
GOP 93% 5 2
Independent 87% 7 6

28. Do you think it is more likely that Usama bin Laden is currently living in comfort and is still in control of his terrorist network, or is it more likely that he is on the run and scared?

1. bin Laden is living in comfort and still in control 25%
2. bin Laden is on the run and scared 58
3. (Combination) 4
4. (bin Laden is dead) 1
5. (Not sure) 12

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

  Excellent Good Fair Poor (Dk)
11 Jan 02 2% 26 47 22 3
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

30. 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)
11 Jan 02 29% 43 11 3 8 6
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

31. How confident do you feel about your own personal financial future?
SCALE: 1. Very confident, 2. Somewhat confident, 3. Not very confident, 4. Not at all confident, 5. (Not sure)

  Very Somewhat Not very Not at all (Dk)
11 Jan 02 36% 45 11 3 5
12 Jan 01 32% 50 10 4 4
21 May 99 36% 47 11 2 4

32. Do you think the country is currently headed out of a recession or are we headed deeper into a recession?
1. U.S. is on the way out of a recession
2. U.S. is headed deeper into a recession
3. (U.S. not in a recession)
4. (Not sure)

  On way out of a recession Deeper into recession (Not in recession) (Dk)
9-10 Jan 02 55% 31 2 12
12-13 Dec 01 43% 41 2 14

33. Which of the following do you think is more responsible for turning the federal budget surplus into a budget deficit? (ROTATE)

1. Increased military spending and other responses to the terrorist attacks 34%
2. Last year's tax cuts 26
3. (Recession) 6
4. (Both) 13
5. (Not sure) 21

34. Who do you think is more to blame for Congress's failure to pass an economic stimulus plan — (President Bush and Senate Republicans) or (Senator Daschle and Senate Democrats)? (rotate)

1. President Bush and Senate Republicans 22%
2. Senator Daschle and Senate Democrats 33
3. (Both) 14
4. (Not sure) 31

35. Do you agree or disagree with those who say Democrats would rather use the economic downturn as an election issue than work to improve the economy?

1. Agree 52%
2. Disagree 30
3. (Not sure) 18

36. Do you agree or disagree with those who say Republicans are too focused on the war on terrorism and not paying enough attention to the economy?

1. Agree 29%
2. Disagree 61
3. (Not sure) 10

37. A year from now, do you think Americans will need to be more or less concerned about terrorism than they are today?

1. More concerned in a year 56%
2. Less concerned in a year 22
3. (Same) 20
4. (Not sure) 2

38. If other countries in the international alliance fighting against terrorism oppose actions beyond Afghanistan, do you think the U.S. should give up the hunt for terrorists or is fighting terrorism so important that the U.S. should go it alone?

1. Give up the hunt for terrorists 15%
2. Go it alone 65
3. (Not sure) 20

39. Do you favor or oppose requiring all airport security screeners to have a high-school diploma as a minimum level of education?

1. Favor 83%
2. Oppose 12
3. (Not sure) 5

40. Do you favor or oppose requiring all airport security screeners be U.S. citizens?

  Favor Oppose (Not sure)
9-10 Jan 02 86% 10 4
28-29 Nov 01* 84% 12 4

* Wording: ". . . all security personnel, whether at airports, banks, or other public facilities . . . " 28-29 Nov 01

41. Do you think the federal trials of accused terrorists should be made available on television to the general public?

  11 Jan 02 2 May 97*
1. Yes 39% 34%
2. No 54 62
3. (Not sure) 7 4

* 1997 Wording "Do you think the Oklahoma City bombing trial should be made available on television to the general public?"

42. If the trials of accused terrorists were made available on television, would you watch?

  11 Jan 02 2 May 97*
1. Yes 54% 43%
2. No 40 56
3. (Not sure) 6 1

* 1997 Wording refers to OKC bombing trial: "If it were made available on television, would you watch?

43. How confident are you that accused terrorists will receive fair trials in the U.S.?

1. Very confident 45%
2. Somewhat confident 32
3. Not very confident 10
4. Not at all confident 6
5. (Not sure) 7