Poll: Americans Unconvinced Cold War is Over for Good

As the United States and Russia finalize a new nuclear arms treaty, a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll finds that only about one-third of Americans believe the Cold War is really over.

The national poll, conducted during the same week President Bush and President Putin announced they would sign an agreement to reduce nuclear arsenals, shows 36 percent believe the Cold War is over, while 40 percent believe Russia will be an enemy of the U.S. again.

When asked whether Russia is a friend of the U.S., Americans were slightly more optimistic. Four in 10 believe Russia is a friend of the United States today and 35 percent disagree. One-quarter of the public will not venture an opinion on the current state of affairs between Russia and the U.S.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is viewed favorably by 23 percent of the country, 13 percent have an unfavorable view of him, 23 percent have no opinion and 41 percent say they have never heard of Putin.

"While events like 9/11 get Americans’ attention, the fact that two-thirds have never heard of or have no opinion of the president of the second strongest military power in the world and arguably the only power that can really threaten mass destruction of the U.S. shows the persistent lack of interest in foreign affairs," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "It takes a lot to get Americans interested in events beyond our borders."

President Bush's favorable and job approval rating are both 77 percent in the most recent poll. When asked about how the president is handling the war on terror, 41 percent think Bush should be more aggressive in fighting the war and 11 percent think less aggressive. About 4 in 10 Americans think the amount of force Bush is using is "about right."

Almost half of the country thinks it is likely terrorists will follow through on a rumored threat to strike a U.S. nuclear power plant on the fourth of July (13 percent "very likely" and 36 percent "somewhat likely").

Private Investing of Social Security Contributions

Americans like the idea of having the option to invest their Social Security contributions. A majority favors giving people the choice to invest privately a small amount of their SS contributions (66 percent) while 25 percent oppose such a measure.

Young people are the most likely to favor the private investment option, with 83 percent of those under 35 years old favoring it compared to less than half of those over age 60. Republicans strongly favor (73 percent) giving people the private investment choice, while a majority of Democrats also favor the concept (58 percent).

If given the choice, over half of Americans say they would privately invest some of their SS money. This holds true among all those under age 60 and, not surprisingly, young people are most likely to say they would privately invest, as are those in the higher income brackets.

A recurring topic in Washington is Social Security reform, or as some choose to call it "saving" Social Security. Maybe because of the constancy of the topic, or in spite of Social Security's fate being so frequently discussed, the public seems confident the system will be there for them when they need it. Of those not already receiving SS checks, 77 percent say they expect to receive benefits when they retire. Younger folks are less optimistic, but even here a majority expects to receive the benefit.

Social Security comes in toward the bottom of priority issues for Congress and President Bush to work on right now. When asked to select the most important issue from a list of eight top issues, the war on terror was chosen by 15 percent, followed by the economy (12 percent), health care (11 percent), homeland security (11 percent), education (9 percent) and Social Security (6 percent).

Polling was conducted by telephone May 14-15, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

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 someone, please just say so.

1. George W. Bush

2. Vladimir Putin

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

4. Of the following issues, which do you think is the most important for Congress and President Bush to be working on right now? (Randomize)

5. Do you think people should have the choice to invest privately a small amount of their Social Security contributions or not?

6. If you had the choice today, do you think you would privately invest some of your own Social Security money?

7. Do you expect to receive Social Security benefits after you retire?

8.-11. In the last couple of weeks, have you heard your friends or neighbors talking about the following issues? (If yes, Would you say "a lot" or "a little"?)
SCALE: 1. Yes, a lot 2. Yes, a little 3. No, not at all 4. (Not sure)

12. Do you think Russia is a friend of the United States today or not?

13. President Bush will soon be traveling to Russia to sign a nuclear arms reduction agreement that has been described as the final end of the Cold War. Do you think:

14. If more soldiers are needed in the war against terrorism, would you approve or disapprove of re-instituting the draft?

15. Do you think President Bush should be more aggressive than he's been in fighting the war on terror, or should Bush be less aggressive in fighting the war on terrorism?

16. U.S. officials say they have received threats that terrorists will strike a U.S. nuclear power plant on July Fourth. How likely do you think it is that a terrorist attack will take place on the fourth of July?

During the war on terrorism, do you favor or oppose each of the following measures?

17. Canceling all foreign student visas

Previously: Imposing stricter control on foreign student visas

18. Imposing stricter penalties on illegal immigrants

19. Canceling all immigration from countries thought to be connected to terrorists

Previously: Imposing stricter controls on immigration from countries thought to be connected to terrorists

20. Making it more difficult for all foreigners, regardless of country, to enter the United States

21. Sealing U.S. borders and stopping all immigration for up to two years while the search for terrorists is conducted

22. Sealing U.S. borders and stopping all immigration of young Arab men while the search for terrorists is conducted

23. Since 1960, there have been four Democratic presidents and five Republican presidents. In general, do you think the country has been better off under Democratic Presidents like Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton, or better off under Republican presidents like Nixon, Ford, Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush?

24. Recently there has been some talk of former President Clinton hosting a television talk show. Which of the following possible guests do you think would be watched by the most people?