While Americans are divided on whether bringing the troops home or giving military operations more money is the better way to show support for the troops, a majority says having U.S. troops stay in Iraq and finish the job is the right thing to do.

A 49 percent plurality thinks "bringing them home as soon as possible" would show more support for U.S. troops, but 41 percent think "providing more money for supplies and weapons" is the better way to show support for American soldiers in Iraq, according to a FOX News national poll released today.

When asked about the "right thing to do," almost twice as many Americans say U.S. troops should stay in Iraq and finish the job (62 percent) as say the right thing is to bring the troops home now (32 percent).

Most Republicans (82 percent) think the right thing to do is have the troops stay in Iraq and finish the job, while Democrats are almost evenly divided between finishing the job and bringing the troops home now (45 percent and 48 percent).

Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search) conducted the national poll of registered voters October 28-29, during a week when the White House faced continuing questions about the "mission accomplished" banner used as a backdrop for a speech President Bush gave on an aircraft carrier about six months ago.

"It seems clear that positions on Iraq are growing more and more partisan," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman (search). "Support among Democrats is eroding quickly and it is also diminishing among independents. While the president seems to have a firm base among the Republican faithful, it won't be good for the country if this becomes a 'Republican war'."

Over half (54 percent) of Americans see U.S. military action in Iraq as part of the larger war on terrorism, while just over a third (34 percent) see Iraq as a separate action that is not part of the war on terror. Almost three-quarters of Republicans (74 percent) think action in Iraq is part of the overall war on terror, compared to 40 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents.

The vast majority of the public is concerned about future terrorist attacks (37 percent "very" and 43 percent "somewhat"), with only 15 percent saying "not very" and four percent "not at all" concerned. Those most concerned about future attacks include those living in the Northeast (43 percent very concerned), women (42 percent very concerned), non-whites (49 percent very concerned) and Democrats (42 percent very concerned).

Americans think the terrorist activity that poses the biggest threat to the United States right now is an attack using chemical/biological weapons (35 percent), followed by suicide bombings (19 percent) and car bombs (12 percent). Few Americans (five percent) think the biggest threat today comes from 9/11-type attacks of airplanes being hijacked and crashed.

Half of the public would punish the college student who smuggled box cutters onto airplanes, but 17 percent would instead praise the student for exposing flaws in the security system and 24 percent would "just drop the whole thing." The 20-year-old college junior is facing a federal weapons charge for hiding box cutters and other items on two flights, even though he claims it was an act of civil disobedience done to show weaknesses in security.

Almost a third (31 percent) say they are "not at all" surprised the box cutters got through airport security. Sixteen percent are "very" and 21 percent are "somewhat" surprised the box cutters went undetected, and 30 percent are "not very" surprised.

Polling was conducted by telephone October 28-29, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.  

1. In your opinion, is U.S. military action in Iraq part of the overall war on terrorism or is military action in Iraq separate from the war on terror?
SCALE: 1. Action in Iraq is part of war on terrorism 2. Action in Iraq is separate from war on terror 3. (Not sure)

Part of Separate from (Not sure)
28-29 Oct 03 54% 34 12
25-26 Mar 03* 61% 30 9
24-25 Sep 02 50% 38 12

*March 2003 and previous: “. . . U.S. military action against Iraq . . . “

2. Which of the following acts do you think would show more support for U.S. troops in Iraq?

1. Bringing them home as soon as possible 49%
2. Providing more money for supplies and weapons 41
3. (Not sure) 10

3. What do you think is the right thing to dobring the U.S. troops home now or have U.S. troops stay in Iraq and finish the job?

1. Bring troops home now 32%
2. Finish the job 62
3. (Not sure) 6

(For reference, 23-24 Sep 03) Which of the following statements do you agree with more?

1. American troops should stay in Iraq
until the job there is done
54%
2. American troops should be brought
home as quickly as possible
36
3. (Not sure) 10

4. How concerned are you about the possibility of terrorist attacks?
SCALE: 1. Very concerned 2. Somewhat concerned 3. Not very concerned 4. Not at all concerned 5. (Not sure)

Vry Smwt Ntvy Not (NS)
28-29 Oct 03 37% 43 15 4 1
3-4 Dec 02 40% 40 14 4 2
22-23 Oct 02 LV 53% 35 8 3 1

5. Which country do you think poses a greater danger to the United States right now: Iran or North Korea?

1. Iran 35%
2. North Korea 41
3. (Both equal) 13
4. (Neither) 4
5. (Other) 1
6. (Not sure) 6

6. Do you think Iran currently has a nuclear weapons program?

1. Yes 57%
2. No 24
3. (Not sure) 19

7. Which terrorist activity do you think is the biggest threat to the United States right now?

Oct 2003 June 2002
1. Chemical or
biological weapons
35% 29%
2. Truck or car bombs 12 10
3. Planes being
hijacked and crashed
5 7
4. Tactical nuclear
weapons or dirty bombs
5 10
5. Individual suicide
bombings
19 16
6. Water or food supplies
being poisoned
9 12
7. (Something else/Not sure) 15 16

8. Recently a college student was charged with taking a dangerous weapon onboard an aircraft after he admitted smuggling box cutters and other materials onto airplanes. The student says he hid the materials to expose weaknesses in the security system. Do you think authorities should:

1. Praise the student for
exposing flaws in security,
17%
2. Punish the student for
violating security rules, or
50
3. Just drop the whole thing? 24
4. (Not sure) 9

9. How surprised are you that the box cutters got through airport security?

1. Very surprised 16%
2. Somewhat surprised 21
3. Not very surprised 30
4. Not at all surprised 31
5. (Not sure) 2