While a majority of Americans continues to support U.S. action to remove Saddam Hussein from power, the public is split on the larger issue of taking pre-emptive strikes.

The latest FOX News poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation shows that 58 percent of Americans support taking military action against Iraq. Similarly, 59 percent say they would vote for the resolution before Congress to authorize President Bush to use troops against Iraq (51 percent of Democrats would vote for the resolution compared to 72 percent of Republicans).

The overall support of 58 percent can be broken down into two parts -- 28 percent would back action against Iraq with the current level of allied support and 23 percent say action should be taken "only with significantly more allied support" (the remaining seven percent are unsure).

"Almost all the polling data available suggest that right now Americans are divided into three almost equally sized groups," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "One third pretty much unconditionally support action against Iraq; one third pretty much always oppose it; and one third will support or oppose it depending on the level of allied support and other conditions. This is the group that will be decisive in determining the political ramifications of any action."

When asked whether the U.S. should attack first if it is believed that a country (not directly mentioning Iraq) will attack the U.S., people are split. Just over one-third (36 percent) oppose pre-emptive strikes, one-third say yes the U.S. should attack first, and just under one-third (31 percent) are unsure or say "it depends."

Most Americans are following the debate about Iraq. Almost half (49 percent) say they are following the discussion "very closely" and another 37 percent "somewhat closely." Only three percent say they are not following the situation at all.

The public's support for U.S. action against Iraq is driven, at least in part, by skepticism about the agreements that are currently in place. A solid majority (74 percent) thinks Hussein will "never" give weapons inspectors total access for their searches, and about one-third think it is unlikely the United Nations will enforce its existing resolutions that require Iraq give up efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Twice as many Americans view Iraq as an indirect threat than as a direct threat. Over half of the public (55 percent) is more concerned that Iraq will supply weapons to terrorists, while about one-quarter (23 percent) are more concerned that Iraq will attack the United States, and 15 percent think both possibilities are of equal concern.

Whether action to topple Hussein is part of the country's war on terrorism is unclear. Exactly half would include the situation with Iraq as part of the war on terrorism, but over one-third of Americans (38 percent) think military action against Hussein is separate from the larger war on terror.

As President Bush continues to make the case for action, his overall job approval rating holds steady at 65 percent. Fully 70 percent approve of the job he is doing handling terrorism, compared to 52 percent who approve how he is managing the economy.

Polling was conducted by telephone September 24-25, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. In your everyday conversations with friends and neighbors, what topic would you say comes up most often these days? (OPEN ENDED)

  24-25 Sep 02 18-19 Jun 02
Iraq/Saddam Hussein 13% -%
9/11 /Terrorism/War on Terror 12 19
The economy 9 5
Politics/political issues 5 5
Family issues 5 7
Education/schools 3 2
Work/jobs/employment 3 3
Current events/world news 3 6
Sports 2 5
Stock market/finances/money 2 2
Middle East 2 3
Weather 2 3
Health Care 2 2
Local issues 1 2
Religion/Bible 1 2
Taxes 1 2
Drugs/crime 1 1
Elderly/Social Security - 1
Catholic Church problems - 7
Other 5 6
(DK/ref) 28 17

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

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
24-25 Sep 02 65% 25 10
8-9 Sep 02 66% 22 12
6-7 Aug 02 69% 20 11
23-24 Jul 02 69% 18 13
9-10 Jul 02 70% 19 11
18-19 Jun 02 73% 14 13
4-5 Jun 02 74% 15 11

3. Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing handling terrorism?

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
24-25 Sep 02 70% 23 7
23-24 Jul 02 77% 17 6
4-5 June 02 73% 18 9
30 Apr-1 May 02 78% 16 6
12-13 Mar 02 84% 9 7
9-10 Jan 02 89% 6 5
18-19 Oct 01* 89% 7 4
4-5 Oct 01* 86% 7 7
20-21 Sept 01* 88% 8 4

* Wording: "responding to the terrorist attacks"

4. Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing managing the economy?

  Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
24-25 Sep 02 52% 36 12
23-24 Jul 02 55% 37 8
4-5 June 02 62% 28 10
30 Apr-1 May 02 64% 29 7
9-10 Jan 02 59% 27 14
6-7 June 01 52% 29 19
28-29 Mar 01 52% 27 21

5. How closely are you following the discussion about whether the U.S. should use military action to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power?

1. Very closely 49%
2. Somewhat closely 37
3. Not very closely 9
4. Not at all closely 3
5. (Not sure) 2

6. Do you support or oppose U.S. military action to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein?

  Support Oppose (Not sure)
24-25 Sep 02 58% 27 15
8-9 Sep 02 66% 22 12
6-7 Aug 02 69% 22 9
9-10 Jul 02 72% 18 10
30 Apr-1 May 02 70% 20 10
30-31 Jan 02 74% 15 11
28-29 Nov 01* 77% 22 11

* Wording: " . . .action against Iraq and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein"

7. (IF SUPPORT) Do you support the United States taking military action with the current level of allied support or only if we have significantly more allied support?

1. Current level of allied support 49%
2. Only with significantly more allied support 39
3. (Not sure) 12

6. - 7. Combined

58% Support Military Action to Remove Hussein  
  28 Current level of allied support
  23 Only with significantly more allied support
  7 (Not sure)
27% Oppose  
15% (Not sure)  

8. In your opinion, is U.S. military action against Iraq a part of the overall war on terrorism or is it separate from the war on terror?

1. Action against Iraq is part of war on terrorism 50%
2. Action against Iraq is separate from war on terror 38
3. (Not sure) 12

9. If YOU were in Congress, how would you vote on the proposed resolution authorizing President Bush (quote) "to use United States Armed Forces to defend the national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq " (unquote)? Would you vote for or against the Iraq resolution?

1. For 59%
2. Against 28
3. (Not sure) 13

10. Do you think Saddam Hussein will ever give weapons inspectors complete and total access, or not?

1. Yes, Hussein will give inspectors total access 18%
2. No, inspectors will never get total access 74
3. (Not sure) 8

11. Are you more concerned that Iraq will attack the U.S. or are you more concerned that Iraq might supply nuclear and other weapons to terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda?

1. More concerned Iraq will attack U.S. 23%
2. More concerned Iraq will supply weapons to terrorists 55
3. (Both) 15
4. (Neither) 4
5. (Not sure) 3

12. How likely do you think it is that the United Nations will enforce its existing resolutions that require Iraq give up efforts to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons?

1. Very likely 27%
2. Somewhat likely 31
3. Not very likely 20
4. Not at all likely 12
5. (Not sure) 10

13. Which comes closer to your opinion?

1. The U.S. should attack any country it believes will attack the U.S. before that country has the chance to attack 33%
2. The U.S. should not attack another country unless that country has first attacked the U.S. 36
3. (Depends) 20
4. (Not sure) 11