Belief in War Drops, But Most Still Think Iraq Had WMD

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Over the past two months, Americans have become somewhat less convinced that going to war with Iraq was worthwhile, but majorities continue to approve of the job President Bush is doing and believe Iraq had, or still has, weapons of mass destruction (search).

The latest FOX News national poll of registered voters, conducted June 17-18 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, finds that fewer people believe the war with Iraq was “worth it” now than thought so at the end of April. Today, about half (53 percent) believe the war was worth it, down from 64 percent near the end of the fighting (April 22-23). On May 1, President Bush declared “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.”

Views are split on whether Saddam’s weapons capabilities were hyped, with 43 percent saying the dangers were likely exaggerated and 43 percent saying they were not. And even though a large minority believes the dangers were exaggerated — either by President Bush, the intelligence community, or both — fully 79 percent believe Iraq either currently has (25 percent) or had (54 percent) weapons of mass destruction. Only 12 percent say Iraq did not have any WMD.

The poll shows President Bush continues to be rated positively by a majority of Americans. Today, by 65 percent to 25 percent, the public approves of Bush’s job performance, down from his recent wartime high of 71 percent (April 8-9). Right before the start of the war (March 11-12), 60 percent of Americans approved of the president’s performance.

While there currently is no gender gap on the president’s ratings, a large partisan difference continues. Bush receives a 90 percent approval rating among Republicans, 41 percent among Democrats and 63 percent among independents.

U.S. Peacekeepers in Mideast?

Despite the wavering peace plan and continued violence, many Americans oppose the idea of sending U.S. peacekeeping troops to the Middle East. A 57 percent majority opposes sending military personnel to the region, while a third favor taking such action.

"The stories about daily killings of soldiers in Iraq has likely reinforced in people's minds how hard peacekeeping can be," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "The stories from Iraq as well as from Israel show just how dangerous things can be when there are determined, angry and suicidal enemies out there."

Opinion is sharply divided on U.S. involvement in Mideast negotiations, with 37 percent supporting more involvement and 40 percent saying the U.S. should be less involved in the peace process. About one in 10 think involvement should stay at its current level, and three percent think the United States should “get out completely.”

Low Expectations for Tax Cuts

More than four in 10 Americans say they do not expect to see any difference in their paycheck next month when the newly signed tax cut law should start hitting workers’ wallets.

When asked how they plan to spend their extra (tax cut) cash, 21 percent say they will pay bills with it, 15 percent say save it, nine percent will spend it and two percent say they will give it to charity. But the plurality (44 percent) says they do not think they will be getting any extra pay because of the tax cut. Predictably, Democrats are the most skeptical, with 51 percent saying they don’t think they will get more money, compared to 36 percent of Republicans.

In addition, more than half of Americans (55 percent) say it does not feel like the economy is getting any stronger, and two-thirds think most people they know are more nervous about their jobs than about terrorism (19 percent).

Again, partisanship is clearly evident on views of the economy. Over half of Republicans (55 percent) say they think the economy is getting stronger, but only 22 percent of Democrats feel that way.

Polling was conducted by telephone June 17-18, 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?

2. All things considered, do you think the United States going to war with Iraq has been worth it or not?

3. On the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, do you believe Iraq:

4. Which one of the following do you believe is most likely to be true:

5. Do you think most people you know are more nervous about their jobs or are they more nervous about terrorism?

*Wording: “… about the economy and job security or are they more nervous about terrorism and war?”

6. Which city in the United States do you think is most at risk of a terrorist attack? (OPEN)

7. For you and your family, does it feel like the economy is getting stronger or not?

8. Next month many people will see more money in their paycheck due to the newly signed tax cut law. What do you plan to do with your extra cash – spend it, save it, pay bills with it or give it to charity, or don't you think you'll be getting anything?

9. Do you think the United States should get more involved or less involved in the Middle East peace process?
SCALE: 1. More involved 2. Less involved 3. (Stay the same) 4. (Get out completely 5. (Not sure)

Sending troops around the world is both dangerous and expensive. For each of the following, please tell me if you favor or oppose sending U.S. troops to take military action:
SCALE: 1. Favor 2. Oppose 3. (Not Sure)

10. As peacekeepers in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip?

11. Into Columbia to assist that government in destroying the drug trade

12. Into any country where forces are needed to confront terrorists