Pessimism about the condition of the nation’s economy continues to grow and, even as war with Iraq seems increasingly inevitable, almost twice as many people say they spend more time thinking about their finances than about war.

Just over half of Americans (52 percent) say they feel pessimistic about the economy right now, up 11 percentage points in the last three months and up 24 points from a year ago, according to the latest FOX News poll.  Strong partisan differences are evident here, with Democrats and independents being significantly more pessimistic (64 percent and 61 percent respectively) than Republicans (36 percent).

The national survey of registered voters, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, also found that a strong plurality (48 percent) thinks if the United States goes to war with Iraq it will hurt the economy (29 percent think war will hurt the economy “a lot”) and fully 85 percent think war will increase oil prices.

One thing that is generally thought to hurt the economy is uncertainty.  Many Americans are frustrated with not knowing if and when there will be a war and agree with the following sentiment: “get it over with in Iraq and stop the uncertainty.”  Even 26 percent of respondents who oppose taking military action agree with this “stop the uncertainty” view.  Among those most likely to agree with “get it over with,” are men (64 percent), young people (67 percent), Republicans (68 percent) and self-styled “hawks” (72 percent).

Half of the public says they spend more time thinking about their personal financial situation than about war, while 27 percent spend more time thinking about terrorism and war than money, and 15 percent say the two issues are equally consuming. 

Thinking about those issues on the national level, 40 percent say they are more concerned about the economy, 33 percent about national security, and 24 percent volunteer they are equally concerned about both issues. “This growing concern for economic issues is all the more telling since it comes in the midst of the near total saturation of war-related news. It’s clear from these data that ‘pocketbook’ issues have a powerful hold on the American psyche,” commented Ernest Paicopolos, a principal of Opinion Dynamics.

Support for the United States military taking action against Iraq remains steady at 69 percent (51 percent “strongly” support) and 23 percent oppose action (13 percent “strongly” oppose).  Half of Americans personally know someone in the Armed Forces or National Guard who has been or is being sent to the Middle East to prepare for action against Iraq.  Of those knowing someone being sent (or are being sent themselves), 72 percent support U.S. military action to oust Saddam Hussein.

If the country does invade Iraq, more people think the war will be “over relatively quickly” (47 percent) than that it will “last a long time” (38 percent). 

Some Americans agree (18 percent) with U.S. allies, such as France and Germany, who oppose taking military action, but many disagree.  A plurality says they disagree but respect the position of the allies (42 percent), while just over one-third say they are “angry” these allies are not supporting the United States position on Iraq.  Undoubtedly remembering history, older Americans (of all the demographic groups) are the ones most likely to be angry with the allies (48 percent).

On the proposal made by France and Germany that would, among other things, increase the number of inspectors and give them more time, 37 percent think this is a “good plan” but a majority thinks the plan would “just delay” the inevitable invasion of Iraq (53 percent).

Today, a clear majority thinks there will definitely be a war with Iraq (63 percent), while 30 percent think war could still be prevented.  Similarly, 63 percent think it is likely (36 percent “very likely”) that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will be removed from power within the next year, while 30 percent think it is likely Saddam will still be around.

Polling was conducted by telephone February 11-12, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points. Results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted. LV = likely voters

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

  Approve Disapprove (DK)
11-12 Feb 03 57% 32 11
29-30 Jan 03 59% 28 13
14-15 Jan 03 63% 28 9
17-18 Dec 02 65% 26 9
3-4 Dec 02 65% 24 11

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing handling the situation with Iraq?

  Approve Disapprove (DK)
11-12 Feb 03 50% 38 12

3. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the government is doing to protect the country from terrorism?

  Approve Disapprove (DK)
11-12 Feb 03 71% 19 10

4. Would you say you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S. economy right now? (If optimistic/pessimistic, is that strongly or only somewhat?)

  -- Optimistic -- -- Pessimistic --    
  TOT Strngly Smwht TOT Smwht Strngly (Neither) (DK)
11-12 Feb 03 40% 15 25 52 27 25 3 5
3-4 Dec 02 51% 20 31 41 28 13 3 5
26-27 Feb 02 66% 31 35 28 18 10 4 2
12-13 Dec 01 71% 33 38 24 16 8 - 5
3-4 Oct 01 71% 34 37 23 16 7 2 4
25-26 Jul 01 55% 22 33 37 22 15 3 5

5. On a personal level, would you say you spend more time thinking about money and your financial situation or about terrorism and war with Iraq?

  Money/finances Terrorism/War (Same) (Not sure)
11-12 Feb 03 50% 27 15 8
19-20 Nov 02 64% 14 14 8

6. Do you support or oppose U.S. military action to disarm Iraq and remove

  -- Support -- -- Oppose --  
  TOT Strngly Smwht TOT Smwht Strngly (Not sure)
11-12 Feb 03** 69% 51 18 23 10 13 8
29-30 Jan 03** 67%     21     12
14-15 Jan 03** 67%     25     8
17-18 Dec 02** 65%     23     12
19-20 Nov 02** 68%     18     14
22-23 Oct 02 LV** 62%     27     11
8-9 Oct 02 LV** 72%     17     11
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

** Added wording: " . . . to disarm Iraq and . . ."

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

7. Do you think President Bush has delayed too long in taking military action against Iraq?

1. Yes 28%
2. No 65
3. (Not sure) 7

8. Do you agree or disagree with the statement, "It's time to get it over with in Iraq and stop the uncertainty"?

1. Agree 56%
2. Disagree 35
3. (Don't know) 9

8a. Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is scheduled to make a report to the U.N. Security Council on Friday. If Blix reports that Iraq is cooperating and inspectors are making progress, do you think President Bush should delay plans for war with Iraq or has Iraq been given too many chances already?

1. Yes, delay 47%
2. No, no more delays 44
3. (Not sure) 9

9. Several U.S. allies, such as France, Germany, and Russia, oppose taking military action against Iraq at this time. Which of the following best describes how you feel about these countries not supporting the U.S. position on Iraq? Would you say that you:

1. Agree with the position of these allies 18%
2. Disagree with these allies, but respect their right to take that position 42
3. Are you angry that these allies are not supporting the United States 35
4. (Not sure) 5

10. France and Germany have made a proposal that would put United Nation troops in Iraq to back up the inspectors, increase the number of inspectors, and give inspections a longer time to work. Do you think this is good plan or will it only delay the inevitable need to invade Iraq?

1. Good plan 37%
2. Just delays war 53
3. (Not sure) 10

11. Which of the following do you think is the most likely reason that France is opposed to the U.S. position on Iraq?

1. France is typically anti-American 9%
2. France has financial and oil interests in Iraq 31
3. France is afraid to fight 11
4. France sincerely believes a peaceful resolution is possible 23
5. All of the above 9
6. None of the above 3
7. (Not sure) 14

12. On the national level, are you more concerned about the economy or about national security?

  Economy Security (Both) (Neither) (NS)
11-12 Feb 03 40% 33 24 2 1
8-9 Sep 02 32% 31 35 1 1
6-7 Aug 02 39% 33 27 1 -
12-13 Feb 02 35% 35 28 1 1

13. If the United States goes to war with Iraq, do you believe oil prices in the United States will increase, decrease or stay about the same?

1. Increase 85%
2. Decrease 3
3. Stay the same 9
4. (Not sure) 3

For reference: How concerned are you that war with Iraq will lead to oil shortages in the United States?

1. Very concerned 18%
2. Somewhat concerned 31
3. Not very concerned 26
4. Not at all concerned 20
5. (Not sure) 5

19-20 Nov 02

14. If the United States goes 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?

  -- Help -- -- Hurt --      
  TOT Lot Lttl TOT Lttl Lot (No difference) (Mixed/both) (NS)
11-12 Feb 03 34% 16 18 48 19 29 3 6 9
8-9 Oct 02 46% 21% 25 39 19 20 3 5 7

15. Which country do you think poses the greatest immediate threat to the United States -- Iraq or North Korea? (ROTATE)

  Iraq North Korea (Equal) (NS)
11-12 Feb 03 42% 32 19 7
14-15 Jan 03 40% 33 18 19

16. Would another terrorist attack in the United States make you more or less likely to support military action against Iraq?

1. More likely 66%
2. Less likely 8
3. (No difference) 12
4. (Depends on Iraq involvement) 9
5. (Not sure) 5

17. Do you personally know anyone in the Armed Forces or National Guard who has been or is being sent to the Middle East for the potential military action against Iraq?

1. Yes, know someone who is being/has been sent 50%
2. No/(Not sure) 50

18. Do you think the United States will definitely go to war with Iraq or is there a chance that war will be prevented?
SCALE: 1. Definitely go to war 2. Chance war will be prevented 3. (Not sure)

  Definitely Chance prevented (NS)
11-12 Feb 03 63% 30 7
29-30 Jan 03 59% 31 10

19. If the U.S. goes to war with Iraq, do you think military action will be over relatively quickly or will military action in Iraq last a long time?

1. Relatively quickly 47%
2. A long time 38
3. (War will be short, U.S. will be there a long time peacekeeping afterwards) 8
4. (Not sure) 7

20. How likely do you think it is that Saddam Hussein will be removed from power within the next year?

1. Very likely 36%
2. Somewhat likely 27
3. Not very likely 19
4. Not at all likely 11
5. (Not sure) 7

21. If the United States stopped threatening military action against Iraq and just acted nice to Muslims around the world, do you think terrorist threats to the U.S. would:

1. Increase, 26%
2. Decrease, or 8
3. Remain about the same as they are now? 60
4. (Not sure) 6

22. In the war against terrorism, do you think most American Muslims:

1. Support the United States, or 62%
2. Support the terrorists? 15
3. (Not sure) 23

For Reference: Do you think American Muslims support the United States in the war on terror, or not?

1. Yes 49%
2. No 29
3. (Refused/Not sure) 22

26-27 June 02

23. In the war against terrorism, do you think most Muslims around the world:

1. Support the United States, or 27%
2. Support the terrorists? 41
3. (Not sure) 32

24. Some say that U.S. policy in Iraq will cause Arab nations to crack down on radical Muslims in their countries. Others say that U.S. policy will actually encourage the growth of radical Muslim movements. Which comes closer to your view?

1. Countries will crack down on radical Muslims 35%
2. Radical Muslims will grow 44
3. (Not sure) 21

25. With regard to military matters, do you generally think of yourself as a "hawk" or a "dove"? (Well, which way do you lean . . . ) ROTATE
SCALE: 1. Hawk 2. Dove 3. (Depends/Combo) 4. (Not sure)

  Hawk Dove (Depends/Combo) (Not sure)
11-12 Feb 03 38% 34 17 11
29-30 Jan 03 38% 31 16 15