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?

  Approve Disapprove (DK)
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
3. (Both) 22
4. (Neither) 1
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
3. (Both/Neither) 9
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%
2. Terrorism 12
3. Social Security 11
4. Iraq 8
5. Health Care 11
6. Taxes 8
7. Education 12
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)

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Dk)
The economy 41% 41 7 11
Terrorism 51% 25 10 14
Social Security 32% 46 8 14
Iraq 51% 26 8 15
Health Care 32% 48 7 13
Taxes 45% 37 7 11
Education 38% 42 10 10

The economy

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Dk)
8-9 Oct 02 LV 41% 41 7 11
6-7 Aug 02 RV 36% 43 9 12

Education

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Dk)
8-9 Oct 02 LV 38% 42 10 10
6-7 Aug 02 RV 35% 44 10 11

Social Security

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Dk)
8-9 Oct 02 LV 32% 46 8 14
6-7 Aug 02 RV 30% 48 9 13

Taxes

  GOP Dems (Equal) (Dk)
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?

  All Dem Rep Ind
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?

  All Dem Rep Ind
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
4. (Both/Depends) 25
5. (Not sure) 9

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

  Excellent Good Fair Poor (Dk)
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
3. (Depends) 10
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
3. (Depends) 10
4. (Not sure) 9

24. Do you support or oppose U.S. military action TO DISARM IRAQ AND remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein?

  Support Oppose (Not sure)
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
6. (Mixed/both) 5
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?

1. Safer 25%
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
3. (Equal) 10
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
3. (Neither) 11
4. (Depends) 6
5. (Not sure) 16

30. Did you happen to see or hear President Bush's speech about Iraq on Monday night?

1. Yes 48%
2. No/Refused 52

31. (IF HEARD SPEECH, n=431) Do you think President Bush made a convincing case that action must be taken against Iraq?

1. Yes 69%
2. No 26
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
1. Yes 31% 29%
2. No 56 58
3. (Maybe/depends) 8 8
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