Many Americans Would Give Life to Protect Family

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Large majorities of Americans say they would be willing to give their life to protect family, country and hometown, and over half would be willing to die to protect President Bush from an assassin.

A new nationwide FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll conducted Nov 14-15 shows almost all Americans (97 percent) would be willing to fight and, if need be die, to protect their family, 80 percent to protect the United States, and 57 percent to protect President George W. Bush from an assassin. Over two-thirds (69 percent) say they would fight and die rather than renounce their religious beliefs and 82 percent to protect their town from a major terrorist attack.

"Willingness to die for President Bush is highly correlated to political support. Given his almost uniformly 'favorable' ratings on other questions, it provides another measure of hardcore support," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Republicans at 72 percent are far more likely to say they’re willing to die for Bush than Democrats at 47 percent. Men are also more likely to say they would give their lives for him than women."

Moreover, if additional military forces are needed in the war on terrorism, about three-quarters approve of re-instituting the draft and 64 percent would consider enlisting (44 percent "strongly consider"). Men are far more likely to consider enlisting than women are — 56 percent "strongly consider" to 34 percent.

Support for the current U.S.-led military action remains as high as it was in the weeks following the terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Fully 91 percent support the military action, and 87 percent approve of how the fighting is being conducted in Afghanistan. Americans also remain unified in their backing of the president as some 88 percent approve of Bush's job performance (only 7 percent disapprove).

In the days prior to the poll being conducted there were major victories in Afghanistan, as the Northern Alliance, backed by U.S. air strikes, seized Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul. These victories are no doubt linked to the increase in those believing the U.S. is winning the war against terrorism. In mid-October, 47 percent said the U.S. was winning while today 62 percent think so.

Americans are so determined in their support that most would continue the military activity during the upcoming Muslim religious holidays. Only 13 percent think action should be suspended during Ramadan. In addition, 52 percent would favor bombing a mosque if it were confirmed that bin Laden were hiding there, while 38 percent would favor bombing a city where he was confirmed to be hiding.

Enthusiasm for capturing bin Laden may be driven not only by the September 11 attacks, but also by the belief terrorist groups like his have access to weapons of mass destruction. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) think it is likely that terrorists have access to nuclear weapons.

The poll found overwhelming agreement on the country's goals in Afghanistan. Overthrowing the Taliban, capturing or killing Usama bin Laden and providing humanitarian aid are considered about equally important ("very" and "somewhat") by substantial majorities. Slightly more think it is a "very important" goal to overthrow the Taliban (80 percent) than capturing bin Laden (73 percent "very important") or providing humanitarian aid (65 percent "very important").

For the federal government overall, more chose strengthening homeland security (45 percent) above winning the war in Afghanistan (27 percent) and stimulating the economy (16 percent) as the top priority right now. Over twice as many Americans think cutting taxes is more likely to stimulate the economy than increasing government spending would.

On two occasions since the September attacks the federal government has issued vague warnings about possible additional attacks and asked the public to be on alert. There is divided reaction to the helpfulness of these warnings. Slightly more would like to see these warnings continue, even if no specific information can be given; but 4 in 10 would prefer to receive the alerts only when some specifics can be included (53 percent to 43 percent).

Crash of American Airlines Flight 587

A majority thinks the recent American Airlines plane crash in New York was an accident (72 percent) as opposed to a bomb or some other act of terrorism (10 percent). While federal investigators have made it clear that they believe the crash was likely caused by a mechanical failure, they have not ruled out sabotage and have said that a final determination could be as much as a year away.

Even in the wake of the crash fully 76 percent believe air travel is very or somewhat safe in the country today; however, Americans see room for improvement. Only about a quarter think the airline industry has done everything it can to make air travel as safe as possible, and only one-third think the government has done everything it can for air safety.

Polling was conducted by telephone November 14-15, 2001 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.