As President George W. Bush faces war protesters and defends the Iraq war during his state visit to Great Britain, a majority of Americans continues to support the military action taken to disarm Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein (search). And despite the president’s lowest job rating to date on his handling of Iraq, over half of Americans today think the United States has a responsibility to stay there until a democratic government has been established, according to the latest FOX News poll.

Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search) conducted the national poll of registered voters for FOX News, November 18-19, the first two days of President Bush’s official state visit to Britain.

Currently two-thirds of Americans support the military action taken in Iraq, up two points since September but down from a high of 81 percent in early April when major combat was still underway. Just under half of the public knows someone who was or is in the Middle East for the action in Iraq, and not surprisingly these Americans are even more supportive (71 percent) of the U.S. having taken action.

President Bush has said in many recent speeches and interviews that the United States will stay in Iraq until "the job is done." A majority of Americans supports this notion, as 58 percent think the United States must stay in Iraq until a democracy is in place, even if it takes years.

Troops in Iraq continue to come under daily attack from guerrilla-type fighters. A 44 percent plurality thinks the military’s response to the ongoing violence has not been aggressive enough, while 35 percent of Americans think the response has been "about right" and 11 percent say "too aggressive." The military’s newly initiated Operation Iron Hammer is, at least in part, a strategy of attacking insurgent fighters before they attack U.S. troops or others.

The public’s confidence in achieving some of the objectives in Iraq is down from surveys conducted this summer. Just under half (48 percent) today are confident Saddam will be captured or killed, down from a high of 70 percent in late July. About four in 10 are confident weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq, down from 60 percent four months ago. A majority is still confident the United States will help Iraq set up a democratic government, but that number has also declined (64 percent today versus 74 percent in July).

Overall, slightly more than half of the public (52 percent) approve and 41 percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president, which is about where his job rating has been for the last two months. In addition, a 47 percent plurality today says the United States is "off on the wrong track" and 40 percent say the country is generally "headed in the right direction." The last time the "wrong track" number was higher than "right direction" was early June 1999, which was around the time of several school shootings, including Columbine, the war in Kosovo and the China spy scandal.

Approval for Bush’s handling of Iraq has fallen eight points since early September, and more people now say they disapprove than approve (48 percent to 46 percent). Americans who know someone sent to Iraq give Bush a slightly higher approval rating on his handling of the situation there (52 percent), as do current or former members of the armed services (53 percent approve). The president’s job performance ratings on handling the issue of terrorism, while still positive, is also down and currently stands at 57 percent.

"While comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam are made too casually and often wrongly, one comparison may be appropriate," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman (search). "Americans in 1968 — particularly after the Tet offensive by the Viet Cong — were more supportive of the war itself than of the Johnson administration's handling of it. Hawks and doves alike became convinced that that administration didn't know what it was doing and had no plan. It is too early to tell conclusively, but that seems to me to be the danger facing Bush."

The economy continues to be considered the most important issue for the government to address right now, outranking war in Iraq and terrorism combined. Over a quarter of Americans rate the nation’s economy positively today (28 percent say "excellent" or "good"). This represents a 10-percentage point increase since September, and is also the highest positive rating on the condition of the economy in over year.

Still, fully 70 percent say the economy is in "only fair" or "poor" shape, which could explain why the president’s job rating for managing the economy dropped this month (43 percent approve and 51 percent disapprove).

Bush Job Performance Ratings:

                                       Iraq

Approve Disapprove
Today (Low) 46% 48
Sep 2003 54% 38
April 2003 (High) 75% 19

                                       Terrorism

Approve Disapprove
Today (Low) 57% 34
Sep 2003 65% 29
May 2003 (High) 73% 19

                                       Economy

Approve Disapprove
Today (Low) 43% 51
Sep 2003 47% 46
May 2002 (High) 64% 29

The British public gives Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) a much lower overall job rating than Americans give President Bush. An October telephone poll conducted by ICM Research (search ) in Great Britain found that 61 percent of British adults were dissatisfied with the job Blair is doing and only 33 percent were satisfied.

Finally, Prime Minister Blair has a slightly higher favorable rating among Americans than President Bush. Fully 62 percent of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of Blair, while Bush’s favorable rating stands at 55 percent.

Polling was conducted by telephone November 18-19, 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. Considering how things are today, would you say that the U.S. is generally headed in the right direction, or is it off on the wrong track?

Right
Direction
Wrong
Track
Don't
know
18-19 Nov 03 40% 47 13
3-4 Jun 03 54% 33 13
22-23 Oct 02 LV 46% 37 17
9-10 Jul 02 53% 26 21
30 Apr-1 May 02 58% 26 16

2. What do you think is the most important issue for the federal government to address today? (DO NOT READ)

18-19
Nov 03
9-10
Sep 03
29-30
Jul 03
3-4
Jun 03
(Economy/Jobs/
Unemployment)
28% 38% 40% 44%
(War/Iraq/
Saddam Hussein)
15 6 4 4
(Health Care/
Prescription Drugs)
13 7 10 10
(Terrorism - not Iraq) 8 14 7 7
(Defense/Military/Homeland/
National Security)
5 8 7 9
(Domestic issues/
Take care of U.S.)
5 3 1 -
(Education) 4 7 5 5
(Social Security/Medicare) 4 2 4 4
(Balanced budget/Deficit) 3 3 2 2
(Taxes) 3 2 3 2
(Judicial nominations) 1 na na na
(Foreign affairs/
Mideast - not Iraq)
1 1 2 2
(Crime/Drugs) 1 1 1 -
(Environment/
Energy)
1 1 1 -
(Iran) - - - -
(N. Korea) - - - -
(Other) 3 2 3 5
(Don't know/
Refused)
5 5 9 6

I'm going to read the names of some people. Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each. If you've never heard of one, please just say so. (RANDOMIZE)
SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3.(Can't say) 4. Never heard of 3. George W. Bush

Favorable Unfavorable Can't
say
Never
heard
18-19 Nov 03 55% 39 6 -
28-29 Oct 03 56% 35 9 -
23-24 Sep 03 53% 40 7 -
12-13 Aug 03 61% 32 7 -
17-18 Jun 03 66% 26 8 -

4. Tony Blair

Favorable Unfavorable Can't
say
Never
heard
18-19 Nov 03 62% 11 18 9
11-12 Mar 03 64% 7 12 17

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

Approve Disapprove (DK)
18-19 Nov 03 52% 41 7
     • Know someone
        sent to Iraq (Q21)
57% 36 7
     • Military (Q22) 54% 41 6
28-29 Oct 03 53% 37 10
14-15 Oct 03 52% 37 11
23-24 Sep 03 50% 40 10
9-10 Sep 03 58% 33 9

6. Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing handling the issue of terrorism?

Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
18-19 Nov 03 57% 34 9
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

7. Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Bush is doing managing the economy?

Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
18-19 Nov 03 43% 51 6
9-10 Sep 03 47% 46 7
9-10 Sep 03 47% 46 7
15-16 Jul 03 47% 44 9
20-21 May 03 45% 45 10

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

Approve Disapprove (Don't know)
18-19 Nov 03 46% 48 6
     • Know someone
        sent to Iraq (Q21) 
52% 45 3
     • Military (Q22) 53% 40 7
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

9. On a scale of excellent, good, only fair and poor, how would you rate economic conditions today?
SCALE: 1. Excellent 2. Good 3. Only fair 4. Poor 5. (Not sure)

Exclnt Good Fair Poor (NS)
18-19 Nov 03 2% 26 44 26 2
23-24 Sep 03 1% 17 42 39 1
12-13 Aug 03 1% 15 40 43 1
3-4 Jun 03 1% 19 48 31 1
8-9 Apr 03 1% 20 47 30 2

10. How would you rate your personal financial situation - excellent, good, only fair or poor?
SCALE: 1. Excellent 2. Good 3. Only fair 4. Poor 5. (Not sure)

Exclnt Good Fair Poor (NS)
18-19 Nov 03 7% 40 37 13 3
23-24 Sep 03 5% 39 38 16 2
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 9% 48 29 12 2
8-9 Apr 03 9% 46 33 10 2

11. Do you support or oppose the United States having taken military action to disarm Iraq and remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein? Is that strongly (support/oppose) or only somewhat (support/oppose)?

---- Support ---- ---- Oppose ----  
TOT Strngly Smwht TOT Smwht Strngly (NS)
18-19 Nov 03 66% 50 16 30 10 20 4
     • Know someone
        sent to Iraq (Q21)
71% 58 13 26 11 15 3
     • Military (Q22) 73% 60 13 25 6 19 2
23-24 Sep 03 64% 47 17 30 12 18 6
22-23 Apr 03 76% 61 15 20 9 11 4
8-9 Apr 03* 81% 68 13 16 6 10 3
25-26 Mar 03* 78% 66 12 18 8 10 4

*Wording: “Do you support or oppose the United States taking military action . . . ?”

12. - 15. How confident are you that the U.S.-led coalition will:
SCALE: 1. Very confident 2. Somewhat confident 3. Not very confident or 4. Not at all confident 5. (Not sure) 6. (Already dead)

Capture or kill Saddam Hussein?

Vry Smwht Ntvy Not (NS (Dead)
18-19 Nov 03 17% 31 24 18 9 1
29-30 Jul 03 34% 36 17 8 5 -
15-16 Jul 03 20% 38 20 14 7 1

Find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

Vry Smwht Ntvy Not (NS (Dead)
18-19 Nov 03 15% 26 25 27 7 na
15-16 Jul 03 20% 40 19 15 6 na

Find weapons of mass destruction in Syria, near the Iraqi border?

Vry Smwht Ntvy Not (NS (Dead)
18-19 Nov 03 18% 32 17 16 17 na

Help Iraq set up a democratic government?

Vry Smwht Ntvy Not (NS (Dead)
18-19 Nov 03 28% 36 17 12 7 na
15-16 Jul 03* 36% 38 13 8 5 na
8-9 Apr 03** 36% 41 12 5 6 na

*Wording: “Help Iraq set up a stable government?” **Wording: “How confident are you that the U.S.-led coalition can successfully help Iraq set up a democracy?”

16. 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?
SCALE: 1. Too aggressive 2. Not aggressive enough 3. About right 4. (Not sure)

Too
Aggressive
Not
Enough
About
Right
(Not sure)
18-19 Nov 03 11% 44 35 10
30 Jun-1 Jul 03 9% 33 47 11

17. Do you think the United States has the responsibility to stay in Iraq until a democratic government is established, even if it takes years, or doesn't it have that responsibility?

1. Does have 58%
2. Does not have 34
3. (Not sure) 8

18. In the war on terrorism, do you think Saudi Arabia is better described as being a part of the problem or a part of the solution?

1. Part of the problem 61%
2. Part of the solution 13
3. (Mixed) 12
4. (Not sure) 14

19. In thinking about fighting the war on terrorism, do you favor or oppose each of the following proposals? SCALE: 1. Favor 2. Oppose 3. (Not sure)

Favor Oppose (NS)
Breaking off all diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia if it is proven that that the Saudis are funding terrorist schools anywhere in the world? 55% 35 10
Putting much stronger pressure on Saudi Arabia to give the U.S. military and intelligence agencies total access inside their country? 68% 20 12
Increasing research into alternative energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on oil from Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries? 85% 8 7

20. Do you trust Saudi Arabia to be an ally of the United States in the war on terror or not?

Yes No (Not sure)
18-19 Nov 03 17% 66 17
29-30 Jul 03 16% 67 17
20-21 May 03 18% 66 16

21. 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 military action in Iraq?

1. Yes, know someone who is being/has been sent 46%
2. No/(Not sure) 54

22. Are you a current member or veteran of the U.S. Armed forces?
SCALE: 1. Current 2. Veteran 3. No/(Not sure)

Current Veteran No/
(Not sure)
18-19 Nov 03 3% 16 81
19-20 May 99 2% 14 84