Less than half of Americans say they approve of spending an additional $87 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the amount President George W. Bush is seeking. Even so, a majority thinks going to war with Iraq was the "right thing to do," and two-thirds think the Iraqi people are glad the United States removed Saddam Hussein (search).
These are some of the findings of the latest FOX News national poll of registered voters, conducted September 9-10 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation.
In a speech to the nation Sunday evening, the president said he would ask Congress for $87 billion to fund military and intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as reconstruction. While the public is fairly evenly divided (46 percent approve, 44 percent disapprove) on the request, over half (58 percent) agree with the general notion Bush put forth in his speech that the United States will "do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary" to win. Less than one third thinks the United States should "pull out" of Iraq.
Nearly half of Americans (49 percent) think the Bush administration has made clear its plans and the country’s commitment to Iraq, while 38 percent disagree. Those who watched the speech are more likely to think the administration has made its plans clear than those who did not watch (53 percent and 45 percent respectively). Over four in 10 say they watched or listened to at least part of the president’s speech.
The Bush administration is looking to other countries to share more responsibility in Iraq, and has gone to the United Nations (search) seeking contributions of troops and money. A majority of the public (56 percent) thinks the United States should share authority over operations in Iraq with the United Nations, 26 percent think the United States should maintain control and 13 percent want to hand off the whole thing to the United Nations. When it comes to commanding troops, most Americans (72 percent) think U.S. troops should always be under U.S. command.
The poll asked respondents to name, without prompting from a list, what programs they would like to see funded here at home before any additional money is appropriated for Iraq. The top three replies were education (25 percent), the economy/jobs (18 percent) and health care (12 percent). Seven percent say all domestic programs should come before Iraq, while three percent say just the opposite — that operations in Iraq should come first.
Separately, when asked to name (unprompted) the most important issue facing the government today, the poll shows that the economy clearly outranks all other issues. A 38 percent plurality says the economy is the top issue, followed by terrorism at 14 percent. Even when the responses of terrorism, Iraq/Saddam Hussein and military/homeland security are combined, there is a 10-point gap behind the economy. Other key issues receive responses in the single digits, such as health care (seven percent) and education (seven percent).
"Helping the economy recover" barely bests "protecting the country from terrorism" when the two priorities are pitted directly against each other (32 percent to 29 percent respectively), but a plurality (37 percent) says "both" are important priorities for the government to work on right now. This is a shift from almost a year ago, when only 22 percent said "helping the economy," 24 percent said "protecting" from terrorism and 51 percent put them on equal footing (December 2002).
Overall feelings about the economy remain about where they have been for the last six months. Today 56 percent say they feel optimistic and 37 percent pessimistic about the nation’s economy. More than four in 10 say for them and their family it feels like the economy is "getting stronger," up from 26 percent a year ago, but almost half of the public still disagrees (49 percent). Republicans, higher income groups and men are much more likely to say the economy is strengthening. About two-thirds of Republicans, but only 22 percent of Democrats, feel that way.
"Virtually everything in this survey suggests the deep and almost even partisan divisions of the country that we saw in 2000 are back," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Two years ago there was talk that the events of 9/11 would bring the nation together; events since then have clearly reopened partisan chasms."
The president’s recent claim that the 2003 tax cuts helped keep the economic slump from being as bad as it would have been otherwise receives mixed reviews. Forty-three percent agree that the tax cuts helped make the economic downturn shorter and less severe, but 44 percent say the tax cuts didn’t help. Not surprisingly, Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to attribute the tax cuts with soothing the country’s economic ills.
The public divvies up the blame for the economic downturn of the last couple of years this way: 9/11 terrorists attacks (27 percent), Bush administration policies (19 percent), Clinton administration policies (17 percent), normal business cycles (13 percent) and corporate scandals (11 percent).
Bush Job Ratings
President Bush’s overall job approval rating continues to hold in the high 50s, about where it has been for the last two months. While his overall rating is 58 percent approve, Bush receives only 47 percent approval for the job he’s doing managing the economy. Over half (54 percent) approve of the president’s handling of the situation with Iraq, but approval jumps to 65 percent for his handling of the issue of terrorism.
Finally, about one-third of Americans say they would feel better if Bill Clinton (search) were president today while almost half (48 percent) say they would feel worse. Only nine percent say they would feel the same.
Similarly, over a third (36 percent) say the country would be in better shape if Clinton were president, with under half (46 percent) saying it would be in worse shape. Ten percent think the country would be in the same shape. While there are only slight gender differences on these questions, Democrats are over seven times more likely than Republicans to think things would be better today under former President Clinton.
Polling was conducted by telephone September 9-10, 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?
|9-10 Sep 03||58%||33||9|
|12-13 Aug 03||57%||34||9|
|29-30 Jul 03||59%||31||10|
|15-16 Jul 03||59%||32||9|
|30 Jun-1 Jul 03||60%||27||13|
|17-18 Jun 03||65%||25||10|
2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing handling the issue of terrorism?
|9-10 Sep 03||65%||29||6|
|20-21 May 03||73%||19||8|
|3-4 Dec 02||66%||22||12|
|22-23 Oct 02 LV||67%||22||11|
|24-25 Sep 02||70%||23||7|
3. Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing managing the economy?
|9-10 Sep 03||47%||46||7|
|15-16 Jul 03||47%||44||9|
|20-21 May 03||45%||45||10|
|8-9 Apr 03||48%||40||12|
|29-30 Jan 03||42%||48||10|
|3-4 Dec 02||47%||40||13|
|22-23 Oct 02 LV||48%||42||10|
|24-25 Sep 02||52%||36||12|
|23-24 Jul 02||55%||37||8|
|4-5 Jun 02||62%||28||10|
|30 Apr-1 May 02||64%||29||7|
|9-10 Jan 02||59%||27||14|
|6-7 Jun 01||52%||29||19|
|28-29 Mar 01||52%||27||21|
4. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing handling the situation with Iraq?
|9-10 Sep 03||54%||38||8|
|29-30 Jul 03||58%||32||10|
|15-16 Jul 03||57%||35||8|
|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|
5. Did you watch or listen to any of President Bush’s speech last Sunday evening?
|2. No/(Not sure)||58|
6. Do you think the Bush administration has made clear its plans and the level of U.S. commitment to Iraq or not?
|3. (Not sure)||13|
7. What do you think is the most important issue for the federal government to address today? (DO NOT READ)
|(Terrorism – not Iraq)||14||7||7|
Take care of U.S.)
Mideast – not Iraq)
8. Would you say you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S. economy right now? (If optimistic/pessimistic, is that strongly or only somewhat?)
9. For you and your family, does it feel like the economy is getting stronger or not?
|Stronger||Not stronger||(Not sure)|
|9-10 Sep 03||42%||49||9|
|17-18 Jun 03||37%||55||8|
|24-25 Sep 02||26%||63||11|
10. Which one of the following do you think was most responsible for the economic downturn of the last couple years?
|1. The normal business cycle||13%|
|2. 9/11 and the war on terror||27|
|3. Corporate scandals||11|
|4. The Bush administration’s tax
and economic policies
|5. The Clinton administration’s tax
and economic policies
|7. (Not sure)||7|
11. Do you agree or disagree with the statement: The 2003 tax cuts helped make the nation’s economic downturn shorter and less severe than it would have been without tax cuts?
|3. (Not sure)||13|
12. Which do you think is more important for the government to work on right now — (helping the economy recover) or (protecting the country from terrorism)? (ROTATE CHOICES)
SCALE: 1. Helping the economy recover 2. Protecting the country from terrorism 3. (Both) 4. (Neither) 5. (Not sure)
|9-10 Sep 03||32%||29||37||1||1|
|3-4 Dec 02||22%||24||51||1||2|
13. 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?
SCALE: 1. Strongly right 2. Somewhat right 3. Somewhat wrong 4. Strongly wrong 5. (Not sure)
|9-10 Sep 03||62%||43||19||33%||12||21||5|
|29-30 Jul 03||65%||42||23||27%||10||17||8|
|30 Jun-1 Jul 03||65%||43||22||27%||9||18||8|
14. In the next presidential election, which one of the following will matter most in deciding your vote? The candidate’s position:
|1. On Iraq and the war on terror,||19%||13||27||19|
|2. Or on the economy and tax cuts?||44||57||34||37|
|3. (Both equal)||30||24||32||37|
|5. (Not sure)||4||4||3||6|
For reference (22-23 Apr 03): In the next election, which one of the following do you think will matter most in deciding your votes for President and Congress? The candidate's:
|1. Position on the war with Iraq, or||10%|
|2. Position on the economy and taxes?||65|
|3. (Both equal)||15|
|5. (Not sure)||8|
15. In President Bush’s recent speech to the nation about Iraq and the war on terror, he said the United States “. . . will do what is necessary,” and “will spend what is necessary.” Which do you agree with more: the United States should do and spend what is necessary in Iraq or the United States should pull out of Iraq?
|1. Do and spend||58%||41%||76%||59%|
|2. Pull out||29||43||16||27|
|3. (Not sure)||13||16||8||14|
16. President Bush is sending a request to Congress for 87 billion dollars for military operations and rebuilding in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you were a member of Congress, would you vote to approve the money or not?
|3. (Not sure)||10||10||8||11|
17. What would be the one domestic program that you would most want to make sure received full funding before any additional money is approved for Iraq? (OPEN ENDED)
|(All domestic programs first)||7|
|(Deficit/Balance Budget first)||4|
|(Iraq comes first)||3|
18. Do you think the United States should allow U.S. troops participating in international missions to be under foreign command or should the troops always be under U.S. command?
SCALE: 1. Should allow foreign command 2. Only U.S. command 3. (Not sure)
|9-10 Sep 03||17%||72||11|
|20-21 Nov 96||10%||82||8|
19. Do you think France and Germany will provide money and troops to Iraq or not?
|1. Will provide money and troops||25%|
|2. Will not||61|
|3. (Not sure)||14|
20. Do you agree or disagree with the view that the military action being taken abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan is necessary to protect Americans from having to fight terrorists on U.S. soil?
|3. (Not sure)||9|
21. The United States has asked the United Nations to provide more international contributions of troops and money in Iraq. The United Nations and some countries have expressed a desire for more authority in Iraq before contributing. Which of the following is closest to your view?
|1. The U.S. should give the U.N. control.||13%|
|2. The U.S. should share control with the U.N.||56|
|3. The U.S. should maintain control itself.||26|
|4. (Not sure)||5|
22. Which one of the following do you think is most responsible for the continuing violence against U.S. soldiers in postwar Iraq?
|1. Al Qaeda and other terrorists||19%|
|2. Saddam Hussein and his followers||23|
|3. The Iraqi people themselves||15|
|6. (Not sure)||8|
|7. (Saddam and Al Qaeda are the same)||7|
23. Do you think the Iraqi people are glad that the United States removed Saddam Hussein from power or do the Iraqi people wish the United States troops had stayed home?
|1. Glad U.S. troops removed Saddam Hussein||65%|
|2. Wish U.S. troops had stayed home||20|
|3. (Not sure)||15|
24. Do you think you would (feel better) or (feel worse) if Bill Clinton were president today? (ROTATE)
|4. (Not sure)||8||9||4||9|
25. Do you think the country would be in (better shape) or (worse shape) if Bill Clinton were president today? (ROTATE)
|4. (Not sure)||8||7||5||11|
26. Do you think the United States will have to take military action to stop North Korea from continuing to build a nuclear weapons program, or do you think there is a chance that diplomacy will prevail?
|1. Military action will be needed||23%|
|2. Diplomacy will prevail||61|
|3. (Not sure)||16|