With the mid-term elections less than a month away, the economy tops terrorism as the most important issue to likely voters. Most Americans say the current economy is only in fair or poor shape, and about 4 in 10 believe that war with Iraq will further hurt the economy.
The latest FOX News poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corp. shows that voters not only continue to give the nation’s economy low ratings, but also a plurality says people are "more nervous about the economy and job security" (45 percent) than about "terrorism and war" (29 percent).
In addition, compared to the issue of terrorism, more than twice as many Americans say the economy will be the most important issue in deciding their vote for Congress this fall. When the issues of terrorism and Iraq are combined (20 percent), the economy still ranks number one (30 percent). For those who say the economy is the deciding factor to their vote, 43 percent plan to vote for the Democratic candidate in their district and 41 percent for the Republican. These results indicate that the economy might not be as helpful in reclaiming congressional seats as the Democrats would like.
Even as the economy is seen as a higher concern than terrorism and Iraq, almost all think it is likely the U.S. will be at war with Iraq in the next year. Eighty-eight percent say war in the next year is likely (54 percent "very" and 34 percent "somewhat"). These numbers are up slightly from a month ago when 81 percent said war with Iraq would likely happen relatively soon.
Today, a solid majority (72 percent) supports the U.S. taking military action to disarm Iraq and to remove Saddam from power. Support for military action is highest among Republicans (86 percent), but majorities of Democrats (58 percent) and independents (67 percent) also support this action. Sixty-nine percent of voters who watched President Bush's speech on Monday night think he made a convincing case that action must be taken against Iraq.
Slim majorities say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supported giving President Bush the authority to use military force against Iraq (51 percent more, 29 percent less likely) and for a candidate who supported the 2001 tax cuts (53 percent more, 26 percent less likely). By more than two-to-one those who say they plan to vote for a candidate who supported these positions say they will be voting for the Republican candidate for Congress in their district.
Public opinion about which political party would do a better job on the top issues remains essentially unchanged from previous polling. Democrats are seen as better on the issues of Social Security, education and health care. On the issues of terrorism, Iraq and taxes the Republican Party gets the nod. The parties split evenly on handling the economy.
Americans are overwhelmingly optimistic about the long-term future of the country. Fully 82 percent say they are optimistic (44 percent "very" and 38 percent "somewhat" optimistic) and 13 percent say pessimistic. A smaller majority (64 percent) thinks the life of the average American will be better five years from now compared to 19 percent who say it will be worse.
President Bush's job performance rating remains high at 66 percent approve, 21 percent disapprove. A majority of those voters who give the president a positive job rating say they will vote for the Republican candidate this fall (60 percent to 23 percent Democratic candidate). In addition, almost half of the respondents say they would feel less safe if former Vice President Al Gore were president today, while 25 percent say they would feel safer (16 percent "no difference").
Overall, if the vote for U.S. House were held today, 40 percent say they would vote for or lean toward voting for the Democratic candidate and 42 percent for the Republican candidate in their district (18 percent are unsure). Slightly more self-described independents break for the Democratic candidate (34 percent to 26 percent GOP). Most voters would describe their vote in a positive way, saying their vote will be "for a candidate I like" (67 percent) instead of "against a candidate I dislike" (16 percent).
"While Bush and his Iraq policy are drawing majority support today, Americans are still just about evenly divided on which party can best handle their primary issue -- the economy," comment Opinion Dynamics president John Gorman.
"Republicans have the national defense issues, while Democrats have the domestic issues. In some ways, the deep and fundamental division in the country that was evident in 2000 is persisting in the 2002 elections. Barring some major development in the next few weeks, it seems likely that control of Congress will depend more on luck and local campaigns in the few swing districts than on any strong or broad national consensus about which way the country should move. Neither party has a mandate to handle even a majority of the issues."
Polling was conducted by telephone October 8-9, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 LIKELY VOTERS nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points. LV = likely voters, RV = registered voters
1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||66%||21||13|
|24-25 Sep 02 RV||65%||25||10|
|8-9 Sep 02 RV||66%||22||12|
|6-7 Aug 02 RV||69%||20||11|
|9-10 Jul 02 RV||70%||19||11|
|4-5 Jun 02 RV||74%||15||11|
2. Would you describe yourself as optimistic or pessimistic about the long-term future of the country? (Is that very (optimistic/pessimistic) or only somewhat (optimistic/pessimistic)?
|Total opt.||Very opt.||Somewhat opt.||Somewhat pess.||Very pess.||Total pess.||(Not sure)|
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||82||44%||38||10||3||13||5|
|21-22 Apr 99 RV||75||33%||42||15||6||21||4|
3. Do you think most people you know are more nervous about the economy and job security or are they more nervous about terrorism and war?
|1. Economy and jobs||45%|
|2. Terrorism and war||29|
|5. (Not sure)||3|
4. In five years, do you think the life of the average American will be better or worse than it is today?
|Better||Worse||(No change)||(Not sure)|
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||64%||19||7||10|
|28-29 Oct 98 LV||55%||25||8||12|
|7-8 Oct 98 LV||49%||30||8||12|
5. Thinking ahead to this November's elections, if the congressional election were held today, would you vote for the Republican candidate in your district or the Democratic candidate in your district? (If undecided) Well, if you had to vote, which way would you lean?
|Vote Rep.||Lean Rep.||Total Rep.||Vote Dem.||Lean Dem.||Total Dem.||(Other/Not sure)|
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||36%||6||42||35||5||40||18|
|24-25 Sep 02 RV||32%||10||42||43||2||45||13|
|6-7 Aug 02 RV||33%||6||39||31||5||36||25|
6. This November, will your vote for Congress be better described as:
|1. A vote for a candidate you like or||67%|
|2. A vote against a candidate you dislike?||16|
|4. (Not sure)||8|
7. Of the following issues, which one will be the most important in deciding your vote for Congress this fall? (ROTATE)
|1. The economy||30%|
|3. Social Security||11|
|5. Health Care||11|
|8. (None/not sure)||8|
8. - 14. Which political party -- the Republicans or the Democrats -- do you think would do a better job on each of the following issues? (ROTATE)
SCALE: 1. Republicans 2. Democrats 3. (Equal) 4. (Not sure)
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||41%||41||7||11|
|6-7 Aug 02 RV||36%||43||9||12|
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||38%||42||10||10|
|6-7 Aug 02 RV||35%||44||10||11|
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||32%||46||8||14|
|6-7 Aug 02 RV||30%||48||9||13|
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||45%||37||7||11|
|6-7 Aug 02 RV||40%||41||7||12|
15. Would you be more or less likely to vote for a political candidate if they supported giving President Bush the authority to use military force against Iraq?
|1. More likely||51%||33%||70%||41%|
|2. Less likely||29||45||14||32|
|3. (No difference)||11||11||10||14|
|4. (Not sure)||9||10||5||13|
16. Last year, Congress passed a package of tax cuts proposed by President Bush. Would you be more or less likely to vote for a political candidate if they supported those tax cuts?
|1. More likely||53%||34%||75%||45%|
|2. Less likely||26||44||9||32|
|3. (No difference)||10||10||9||10|
|4. (Not sure)||11||11||7||13|
17. Do you think the news media try to influence voters to support (Republican candidates) or support (Democratic candidates) or don't they try to influence voters? ROTATE
|1. Republican candidates||19%|
|2. Democratic candidates||28|
|3. Don't try to influence voters||19|
|5. (Not sure)||9|
18. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate economic conditions today?
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||5%||20||44||30||1|
|9-10 Jul 02 RV||1%||23||51||24||1|
|30 Apr-1 May 02 RV||3%||27||53||16||1|
|9-10 Jan 02 RV||2%||26||47||22||3|
|19-20 Sep 01 RV||4%||25||45||24||2|
19. 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)?
|Lot better||Little better||Little worse||Lot worse||(Not sure)||(No change)|
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||17%||47||14||8||9||5|
|9-10 Jul 02 RV||17%||48||14||7||9||5|
|30 Apr-1 May 02 RV||25%||44||12||7||8||4|
|9-10 Jan 02 RV||29%||43||11||3||8||6|
|19-20 Sep 01 RV||28%||37||12||8||10||5|
20. How likely do you think it is that you or someone in your family will lose their job this year?
SCALE: 1. Very likely 2. Somewhat likely 3. Not very likely 4. Not likely at all 5. (Already happened) 6. (Not sure)
|Very||Somewhat||Not very||Not at all||(Already)||(DK)|
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||12%||17||23||36||5||7|
|12-13 Dec 01 RV||12%||16||26||34||7||5|
|3-4 Oct 01 RV||10%||14||31||37||3||5|
21. How likely do you think it is that you or your spouse will have to delay retirement because of losses in 401(k) or retirement savings accounts?
|ALL||41-64 yr. olds|
|1. Very likely||19%||28%|
|2. Somewhat likely||17||16|
|3. Not very likely||16||16|
|4. Not likely at all||30||28|
|5. (Already happened)||5||4|
|6. (Not sure)||13||8|
22. If the United States has credible intelligence and believes a country will attack the U.S. with biological or chemicals weapons, should the U.S.:
|1. Attack before that country has the chance to use those weapons||67%|
|2. Should the U.S. not attack until that country first attacks the U.S.||15|
|4. (Not sure)||8|
23. What about in the case of nuclear weapons? If the U.S. has credible intelligence and believes a country will attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons, should the U.S.:
|1. Attack before that country has the chance to use nuclear weapons||71%|
|2. Should the U.S. not attack until that country first attacks the U.S.||10|
|4. (Not sure)||9|
24. Do you support or oppose U.S. military action TO DISARM IRAQ AND remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein?
|8-9 Oct 02 LV**||72%||17||11|
|24-25 Sep 02 RV||58%||27||15|
|8-9 Sep 02 RV||66%||22||12|
|6-7 Aug 02 RV||69%||22||9|
|9-10 Jul 02 RV||72%||18||10|
|30 Apr-1 May 02 RV||70%||20||10|
|30-31 Jan 02 RV||74%||15||11|
|28-29 Nov 01* RV||77%||22||11|
** Wording: "...to disarm Iraq and..."
* Wording: "...action against Iraq and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein"
25. How likely do you think it is that the U.S. will be at war with Iraq in the next year?
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||8-9 Sep 02 RV|
|1. Very likely||54%||41%|
|2. Somewhat likely||34||40|
|3. Not very likely||7||10|
|4. Not at all likely||1||3|
|5. (Not sure)||4||6|
26. If the United States does go to war with Iraq, do you think it will help or hurt the U.S. economy? Is that (help/hurt) the economy a lot or a little?
|1. Help the economy a lot||21%|
|2. Help the economy a little||25|
|3. Hurt the economy a little||19|
|4. Hurt the economy a lot||20|
|5. (No difference)||3|
|7. (Not sure)||7|
27. On a personal level, do you think you would feel safer or less safe if Al Gore were the president today?
|2. Less safe||48|
|3. (No difference)||16|
|4. (Not sure)||11|
28. Overall, do you think more American lives would be lost:
|1. If the U.S. goes to war and sends military forces to Iraq, or||34%|
|2. If Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein stays in power and continues to build weapons of mass destruction?||42|
|4. (Not sure)||14|
29. Do you think the majority of the news media support or oppose the United States taking military action against Iraq?
|1. Media support action||36%|
|2. Media oppose action||31|
|5. (Not sure)||16|
30. Did you happen to see or hear President Bush's speech about Iraq on Monday night?
31. (IF HEARD SPEECH, n=431) Do you think President Bush made a convincing case that action must be taken against Iraq?
|3. (Not sure)||5|
32. It's been about one year since the anthrax attacks in this country. Do you think these attacks were done by a foreign terrorist or by a U.S. terrorist?
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||31 Oct-1 Nov 01 RV*|
|1. Foreign terrorist||31%||29%|
|2. U.S. terrorist||43||35|
|3. (Could be both/Other)||13||20|
|4. (Not sure)||13||16|
* Wording: "Do you think the anthrax scares across the country are more likely being done by terrorists from foreign countries or homegrown terrorists from the U.S.?"
33. Do you think the American public knows enough about the issues facing the country to form wise opinions about what should be done about these issues, or not?
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||22-23 Apr 98 RV|
|4. (Not sure)||5||5|
34. How much trust and confidence do you have in the wisdom of the American people when it comes to making good choices on Election Day?
|8-9 Oct 02 LV||22-23 Apr 98 RV|
|1. A great deal||20%||13%|
|2. A fair amount||51||53|
|3. Not very much||21||25|
|4. None at all||4||5|
|5. (Not sure)||4||4|