Two months after major combat operations ended, and despite ongoing violence against U.S. forces, a majority of the public says going to war with Iraq was the "right thing for the United States to do." But less than half of Americans see the United States as a safer place because of the war, according to the latest FOX News poll.

In the national poll of registered voters, conducted June 30-July 1 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, almost two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) say going to war with Iraq was right, including 43 percent who feel "strongly" that it was the right thing to do. Just over a quarter (27 percent) think the war was the wrong thing to do (18 percent feel "strongly" it was wrong).

Even so, the poll shows Americans are somewhat uncertain the Iraq war has made the United States safer. A 46 percent to 35 percent plurality thinks the war has made the country safer, with 12 percent of the public saying it made no difference. Those who think going to war with Iraq was "the right thing to do," are significantly more likely to think the United States is safer today — fully 65 percent think the country is safer now compared to only 10 percent of those saying the war was wrong.

The level of postwar violence, as well as the lack of clear evidence about Saddam Hussein's fate, has revived speculation about the former Iraqi dictator's current condition. Many Americans (54 percent) now think Saddam is "alive and well," up from 31 percent who thought so in early April, when major combat operations were still underway. One in five (20 percent) think the former dictator is alive but injured, and eight percent think Saddam is dead (down from 18 percent who thought he was dead two months ago).

Since the end of major fighting, there have been seemingly daily reports about the loss of American soldiers' lives in Iraq. A third of the public think the military's response to the continuing violence against troops should be more aggressive, but nearly half (47 percent) think it has been about right, with only nine percent saying the military has been too aggressive in responding to these ambushes and attacks on American troops.

"It is likely that the public will demand more aggressive steps to protect the lives of American soldiers if the killings continue," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Already a third want more action. While the press has been concerned about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, the public seems more likely to worry about the death of American soldiers."

A majority approves of the job President Bush is doing handling the situation with Iraq, but that number has declined somewhat in the past two months. Today, 60 percent approve and 30 percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing on Iraq, compared to 71 percent approving, and 22 disapproving in late April. On the administration's handling of postwar reconstruction in Iraq, today about half (52 percent) of the public approves (down five percentage points from one month ago), and 33 percent disapprove (up two points from June 2003).

While the president's overall job approval is down, it is still considered high by most standards with 60 percent approving of his job performance and 27 percent disapproving. In addition, majorities rate President Bush as either "excellent" or "good" on his knowledge of the issues (62 percent), moral standards (71 percent), leadership skills (64 percent) and judgment in a crisis (66 percent). A sizeable majority (69 percent) says Bush is honest and trustworthy, which is unchanged from July 2001 and up from 57 percent in June 2000, prior to his election as president.

Neighbors Talking About... The Economy

Back in April, almost everyone was talking about the war in Iraq and Saddam Hussein. At that time, 65 percent of respondents said Iraq was the topic that came up most often in conversation with friends and neighbors. This week's FOX poll finds 12 percent are talking about Iraq and Saddam, but more (26 percent) say the economy is the number one topic. That increases to 31 percent when the topics of the economy and jobs are combined. Every other issue area is mentioned at less than 10 percent.

There has been little change in the public's perspective on the national economy in the last few months. The poll finds many Americans (57 percent) feel optimistic about the economy right now, with just over a third (36 percent) saying they feel pessimistic. Looking ahead to next year, over two-thirds (68 percent) think the country's economy will be in better shape, while over half (56 percent) think their personal financial situation will be better. Young adults, higher income families and Republicans are much more optimistic than other groups about the future of the national economy as well as their personal finances.

Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) think the recent Federal Reserve (search) interest rate cut will help the nation's economy compared to 10 percent who think it will hurt the economy, but about one-third (34 percent) think the rate cut will make no difference. As far as influencing personal purchasing decisions, most respondents (72 percent) say the interest rate cut will make no difference to the amount they buy, with only 18 percent saying the rate cut will cause them to increase the amount they purchase.

"People are clearly waiting to see more definitive signs of an upturn in the economy before they change their behavior or raise their personal expectations," comments Gorman. "Obviously, there isn't much room for further tinkering with interest rates so new tools may be needed to spur things along."

One-Third Say Supreme Court Too Liberal

A 63 percent majority of the public disapproves of the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing race to be a factor in college admissions, and a 44 percent to 40 percent plurality disapproves of the court overturning the Texas law that banned gay sex.

Disagreement with some of the top court's well-publicized recent decisions may, in part, explain why almost a third (30 percent) of Americans think the court is too liberal. A plurality (37 percent) thinks the country's highest court is generally "about right" in its decisions, while one in five (20 percent) think the court is too conservative.

In addition, the poll shows a bare majority (51 percent) thinks the Supreme Court is in touch with what is going on in the country. Even so, it may be Americans who are out of touch with the court (or at least the justices). When asked which justice of the Supreme Court they admire or agree with most, fully 70 percent of respondents are unable to offer the name of a sitting justice.

Of those most admired, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search) captures the top slot (11 percent), followed by Justice Antonin Scalia (search) (six percent), Justice Clarence Thomas (search) (five percent) and Justice Ruth Ginsburg (search) (three percent). Chief Justice William Rehnquist (search) and Justice Anthony Kennedy (search) both rank fifth at two percent.

At 52 percent, about the same number of Americans think Congress is in touch with what is going on in the country as the Supreme Court is, but President Bush is seen as most in touch with the country at 68 percent.

Many Americans (60 percent) say they are comfortable with President Bush selecting the next Supreme Court nominee (32 percent "very" and 27 percent "somewhat" comfortable), while a sizable minority (34 percent) is uncomfortable with Bush selecting the nominee (20 percent "very" and 14 percent "somewhat" uncomfortable). Some groups that are most likely to be very comfortable with Bush choosing the next justice include Republicans (62 percent), those approving of Bush's job performance (48 percent), men (36 percent) and whites (36 percent).

In a separate question, respondents were asked which president, a Democratic or a Republican, they would trust more to appoint new justices to the Supreme Court. As has been evident on so many issues of late, Americans are divided — 38 percent would trust a Republican president more and 35 percent a Democratic president, with the remaining 27 percent unsure.

Although the public is split on which party's president they would trust to appoint the next justice, they are much more unified on how nominees to the Supreme Court should be assessed, as fully 72 percent say it is unacceptable for a senator to base his or her vote solely on the nominee's position on abortion.

Polling was conducted by telephone June 30-July 1, 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)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 60% 27 13
17-18 Jun 03 65% 25 10
3-4 Jun 03 66% 26 8
20-21 May 03 64% 26 10
6-7 May 03 65% 24 11
22-23 Apr 03 65% 25 10
8-9 Apr 03 71% 20 9

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

Approve Disapprove (Don’t know)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 60% 30 10
22-23 Apr 03 71% 22 7
8-9 Apr 03 75% 19 6
25-26 Mar 03 69% 23 8
11-12 Feb 03 50% 38 12

3. Do you approve or disapprove of the Bush administration's handling of postwar reconstruction in Iraq?

Approve Disapprove (Don’t know)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 52% 33 15
3-4 Jun 03 57% 31 12

4. – 7. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate President Bush's:

                  Knowledge of the issues

Excllnt Good Fair Poor (Not sure)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 24% 38 20 14 4
29-30 Jan 03 30% 38 19 10 3
30-31 Jan 02 30% 41 20 6 3
11-12 Jul 01 14% 40 28 14 4
14-15 Mar 01 14% 43 26 13 4

                  Leadership skills

Excllnt Good Fair Poor (Not sure)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 32% 32 20 14 2
29-30 Jan 03 33% 36 18 11 2
30-31 Jan 02 40% 37 17 5 1
11-12 Jul 01 18% 36 27 15 4
14-15 Mar 01 22% 38 23 11 6

                  Moral standards

Excllnt Good Fair Poor (Not sure)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 37% 34 14 9 6
29-30 Jan 03 43% 33 12 7 5
30-31 Jan 02 41% 37 14 5 3
11-12 Jul 01 25% 42 19 8 6
14-15 Mar 01 36% 39 14 5 6

                  Judgment in a crisis

Excllnt Good Fair Poor (Not sure)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 30% 36 16 15 3
29-30 Jan 03 33% 35 17 10 5
30-31 Jan 02 43% 38 13 4 2
11-12 Jul 01 15% 33 21 12 19

8. In general, do you think President Bush is honest and trustworthy?

Yes No (Not sure)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 69% 25 6
11-12 Jul 01 69% 20 11
28-29 Jun 00 57% 26 17
8-9 Sep 00 58% 20 22

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

30 Jun-1 Jul 03 8-9 Apr 03 29-30 Jan 03 3-4 Dec 02
Iraq/
Saddam Hussein
12% 65% 42% 13%
9/11 /Terrorism/
War on Terror
7 9 3 16
Economy 26 5 19 22
Family issues 5 3 5 7
Work/Jobs/
Employment
5 3 5 6
Politics/
Political issues
6 2 3 4
Weather 3 2 2 2
Education/
Schools
2 1 3 3
Sports 4 1 2 3
Local issues 3 1 1 3
Religion/Bible 2 1 1 1
Health Care 3 - 2 2
Stock market/
Finances/Money
1 - 1 3
Current events/
World news
1 - 1 2
Taxes 2 - 1 1
Elderly/
Social Security
1 - - 1
Middle East - - - 1
Drugs/Crime 1 - - -
Recreation 2 na na na
Other/Nothing 8 1 3 6
(DK/Ref) 6 6 6 4

10. 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)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 57% 21 36 36 19 17 7
6-7 May 03 58% 25 33 35 17 18 7
25-26 Mar 03 55% 21 34 36 20 16 9
11-12 Feb 03 40% 15 25 52 27 25 8
3-4 Dec 02 51% 20 31 41 28 13 8
26-27 Feb 02 66% 31 35 28 18 10 6
12-13 Dec 01 71% 33 38 24 16 8 5
3-4 Oct 01 71% 34 37 23 16 7 6
25-26 Jul 01 55% 22 33 37 22 15 8

11. 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)?

---- Better ---- ---- Worse ----    
TOT Lot Little TOT Little Lot (Not sure) (No change)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 68% 24 44 18 9 9 8 6
8-9 Apr 03 66% 27 39 18 10 8 11 5
11-12 Mar 03 49% 16 33 34 17 17 14 3
14-15 Jan 03 59% 15 44 26 14 12 10 5
8-9 Oct 02 LV 64% 17 47 22 14 8 9 5
9-10 Jul 02 65% 17 48 21 14 7 9 5
30 Apr-1 May 02 69% 25 44 19 12 7 8 4

12. Would you rate your personal financial situation – excellent, good, only fair or poor?

Excellent Good Fair Poor (Not sure)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 9% 48 29 12 2
8-9 Apr 03 9% 46 33 10 2

13. A year from now, do you think your personal financial situation will be better or worse?

Better Worse (Same) (Not sure)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 56% 12 27 5
8-9 Apr 03 63% 9 22 6
23-24 Jul 02           ALL 57% 19 21 3
                                  Investors 64% 14 20 2
22-23 Aug 01 49% 19 24 8

14. In the next six months, do you plan to put money in the stock market or take money out of the market?

1. Put money in 24%
2. Take money out 6
3. Neither-stay the same 48
4. (Have no money in the stock market) 17
5. (Not sure) 5

15. Last week the Federal Reserve cut the key interest rate to its lowest level in over 40 years. Do you think lower interest rates are more likely to help the economy, hurt the economy, or will lower interest rates make no difference to the condition of the national economy?

1. Help the economy 46%
2. Hurt the economy 10
3. Make no difference 34
4. (Not sure) 10

16. Because of these interest-rate cuts, do you think you personally will increase the amount you buy, decrease the amount you buy or won't the interest-rate cuts make any difference in how much you buy?

1. Increase amount 18%
2. Decrease 8
3. Make no difference 72
4. (Not sure) 2

17. Overall, do you think the war in Iraq has made the United States safer or less safe?

1. Safer 46%
2. Less safe 35
3. (Same) 12
4. (Not sure) 7

18. Do you think going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do or the wrong thing? Do you feel that strongly or only somewhat?

1. Strongly right 43%
2. Somewhat right 22
3. Somewhat wrong 9
4. Strongly wrong 18
5. (Not sure) 8

19. How long do you think U.S. troops should stay in Iraq?

1. Several more months 21%
2. One to two years 17
3. Three to five years 7
4. More than five years 3
5. (Not sure) 17
6. (Forever) 1
7. (As long as it takes) 34

20. And, how long do you think U.S. troops will actually be in Iraq?
SCALE: 1. Several more months 2. One to two years 3. Three to five years 4. More than five years 5. (Not sure) 6. (Forever) 7. (As long as it takes)

  ---- Years -----      
Mnths 1-2 3-5 5+ (NS) (Forever) (Long as takes)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 4% 26 23 16 18 3 10
22-23 Apr 03* 18% 38 17 12 13 2 na

*22-23 Apr 03 wording: U.S. Commander General Tommy Franks has said that U.S. troops will stay in Iraq “until there is a free government.” How long do you think that means U.S. troops will be in Iraq?

21. Do you believe Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is dead, alive but injured or alive and well?

Dead Injured Alive and well (Not sure)
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 8% 20 54 18
8-9 Apr 03 18% 18 31 33
25-26 Mar 03 4% 32 48 16

22. Do you think the military’s response to the continuing violence against U.S.-led forces in Iraq has been too aggressive, not aggressive enough, or about right?

1. Too aggressive 9%
2. Not aggressive enough 33
3. About right 47
4. (Not sure) 11

23. Do you think the military action in Iraq has given the United States more or less credibility to persuade other countries to support U.S. military action in the future?

1. More credibility 45%
2. Less credibility 39
3. (Same) 6
4. (Not sure) 10

24. How likely do you think it is that the United States will take military action against IRAN in the next year?

1. Very likely 14%
2. Somewhat likely 29
3. Not very likely 27
4. Not at all likely 13
5. (Not sure) 17

25. Saudi Arabia openly gives financial support to radical fundamentalist Muslim teachers. Some people argue that these teachers encourage terrorism with their preaching, even among Muslims in the U.S. Would you support or oppose the United States taking military action against Saudi Arabia if they do not end their support for these fundamentalist teachers?

1. Support 36%
2. Oppose 45
3. (Not sure) 19

26. In general, do you think the United States Supreme Court is in touch with what is going on in the country, or not?

1. In touch 51%
2. Not in touch 38
3. (Not sure) 11

27. In general, do you think President Bush is in touch with what is going on in the country, or not?

1. In touch 68%
2. Not in touch 27
3. (Not sure) 5

28. In general, do you think the Congress is in touch with what is going on in the country, or not?

1. In touch 52%
2. Not in touch 35
3. (Not sure) 13

29. If a nominee to the United States Supreme Court is a qualified judge, do you think it is acceptable or unacceptable for a U.S. Senator to base his or her vote on the nominee becoming a Supreme Court justice solely on the nominee’s position on abortion?

1. Acceptable 15%
2. Unacceptable 72
3. (Not sure) 13

30. Do you think the United States Supreme Court is generally too liberal, too conservative, or about right in its decisions?

1. Too liberal 30%
2. Too conservative 20
3. About right 37
4. (Not sure) 13

31. In general, who would you trust more to make new appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court –- a (Democratic) president or a (Republican) president? (ROTATE)

1. A Democratic president 35%
2. A Republican president 38
3. (Not sure) 27

32. – 33. Recently the Supreme Court made some widely publicized ruling. Based on what you know about the decisions, please tell me whether you approve or disapprove of how the court ruled, or if you don’t know enough to say. Do you approve or disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision:

Approve Disapprove (Not sure)
Allowing an applicant's race
to be a factor in college
admission procedures?
24% 63 13
Overturning the Texas law
that prohibited gay sex?
40% 44 16

34. Given President Bush’s appointments in other areas, how comfortable are you with him selecting the next Supreme Court nominee?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Very comfortable 32% 11% 63% 22%
2. Somewhat comfortable 27 25 28 28
3. Somewhat uncomfortable 14 23 3 17
4. Very uncomfortable 20 34 2 26
5. (Not sure) 7 7 4 7

35. Which one of the current Supreme Court Justices do you most admire or agree with? (OPEN)

(Sandra Day O’Connor) 11%
(Antonin Scalia) 6
(Clarence Thomas) 5
(Ruth Bader Ginsburg) 3
(Anthony M. Kennedy) 2
(William H. Rehnquist) 2
(Stephen G. Breyer) 1
(David Souter) -
(John Paul Stevens) -
(Other names) 2
(Don't know any names) 68

36. There has been speculation about actor Arnold Schwarzenegger running for governor of California. If Schwarzenegger were to run for statewide office in your state, do you think you would vote for him?

All Dem Rep Ind
1. Yes 28% 23% 36% 25%
2. No 46 58 37 44
3. (Not sure) 26 19 27 31