NEW YORK – The latest FOX News poll finds that a majority of Americans think the British are more likely to support the Iraq war due to the recent London bombings (search). A slim plurality believes the close U.S. ally was targeted because it supports democracy in general, rather than because of its involvement in Iraq (search). In addition, twice as many Americans think the recent attacks show Iraq is part of the war on terrorism as think it shows Iraq is a diversion.
Americans think the terrorist attacks in London will bring about an increase in British backing of military action in Iraq. Sixty-two percent think the British are more likely to support the war now — three times as many as say less likely (20 percent).
The survey finds 38 percent think the London attacks were motivated by Great Britain’s support of freedom and democracy on the whole, while almost as many — 32 percent — think they were caused by its involvement in the Iraq war.
A 56 percent majority thinks the bombings show the war on terrorism must be fought not just in Iraq but also around the globe, about a quarter (26 percent) think the recent attacks show the opposite — that action in Iraq is a diversion from the war against terrorism.
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on July 12-13 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Today, 64 percent of Americans think the Iraqi people are better off because of the U.S. military action there, an increase of 5 percentage points since earlier this year when 59 percent said so (January 2005). In addition, the poll shows that 66 percent think most Iraqis are glad the United States removed Saddam Hussein from power, while 20 percent think Iraqis wish the U.S. troops had “stayed home.”
About half (51 percent) think U.S. troops should stay in Iraq “as long as it takes,” down 4 percentage points since last year (55 percent, April 2004). The number of those that favor setting a deadline for the U.S. involvement has held steady: last year 39 percent and today 40 percent would rather American troops stay in Iraq “only for a specified period of time.”
Approval of the job Bush is doing as president is sharply divided — 47 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove. As has been true throughout his presidency, an overwhelming majority of Republicans continue to give Bush positive marks (86 percent approve) and most Democrats give negative marks (77 percent disapprove).
The poll shows confidence in the government’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks has declined. Today, 56 percent approve of the job the government is doing protecting the country from terrorism, down from 71 percent in 2003.
A third (33 percent) now think it is “very likely” that a terrorist attack causing the loss of large numbers of American lives will happen in the near future — up from 23 percent the last time the question was asked in April 2003.
“One reason for these changes may be the fact that the London bombings indicated how much havoc a group of young, relatively low-tech suicide bombers can do,” comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. “While people can see the government making progress on preventing the highly organized, very destructive, high-tech events like 9/11, both London and on-going events in Iraq show that a single fanatic can do a serious amount of terrorist damage.”
If the country does get hit again, a large majority (81 percent) thinks it will strengthen the nation’s resolve to go after terrorists, with less than one in 10 saying it would hurt Americans’ resolve and cause the country to back down.
Compared to before 9/11, nearly half think the United States is safer today (48 percent) and a third think the country is less safe (34 percent). This is somewhat of a drop in confidence: about a year ago 52 percent said the country was safer (August 2004), and earlier last year 58 percent said the country was safer (March 2004).
A majority of Americans think public transportation in the United States is safe (16 percent “very safe” and 48 percent “somewhat safe”), and over half think public transportation systems in the United States are either safer than (30 percent) or as safe as (24 percent) those in Britain.
Few Americans (10 percent) say they will change the way they lead their everyday life because of the London bombings.
What I’m Really Worried About...
Finally, one way to put the worries of Americans in perspective: more than twice as many say they are concerned about having enough money saved for retirement (59 percent) as say they are concerned about surviving a future terrorist attack (24 percent).
• PDF: Click here for full poll results.