Poll: 'Finish the Job' in Iraq

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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)

*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?

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?

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

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)

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

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

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

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:

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