Poll: More Concern About Economy Than Iraq

Pessimism about the condition of the nation’s economy continues to grow and, even as war with Iraq seems increasingly inevitable, almost twice as many people say they spend more time thinking about their finances than about war.

Just over half of Americans (52 percent) say they feel pessimistic about the economy right now, up 11 percentage points in the last three months and up 24 points from a year ago, according to the latest FOX News poll.  Strong partisan differences are evident here, with Democrats and independents being significantly more pessimistic (64 percent and 61 percent respectively) than Republicans (36 percent).

The national survey of registered voters, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, also found that a strong plurality (48 percent) thinks if the United States goes to war with Iraq it will hurt the economy (29 percent think war will hurt the economy “a lot”) and fully 85 percent think war will increase oil prices.

One thing that is generally thought to hurt the economy is uncertainty.  Many Americans are frustrated with not knowing if and when there will be a war and agree with the following sentiment: “get it over with in Iraq and stop the uncertainty.”  Even 26 percent of respondents who oppose taking military action agree with this “stop the uncertainty” view.  Among those most likely to agree with “get it over with,” are men (64 percent), young people (67 percent), Republicans (68 percent) and self-styled “hawks” (72 percent).

Half of the public says they spend more time thinking about their personal financial situation than about war, while 27 percent spend more time thinking about terrorism and war than money, and 15 percent say the two issues are equally consuming.

Thinking about those issues on the national level, 40 percent say they are more concerned about the economy, 33 percent about national security, and 24 percent volunteer they are equally concerned about both issues. “This growing concern for economic issues is all the more telling since it comes in the midst of the near total saturation of war-related news. It’s clear from these data that ‘pocketbook’ issues have a powerful hold on the American psyche,” commented Ernest Paicopolos, a principal of Opinion Dynamics.

Support for the United States military taking action against Iraq remains steady at 69 percent (51 percent “strongly” support) and 23 percent oppose action (13 percent “strongly” oppose).  Half of Americans personally know someone in the Armed Forces or National Guard who has been or is being sent to the Middle East to prepare for action against Iraq.  Of those knowing someone being sent (or are being sent themselves), 72 percent support U.S. military action to oust Saddam Hussein.

If the country does invade Iraq, more people think the war will be “over relatively quickly” (47 percent) than that it will “last a long time” (38 percent).

Some Americans agree (18 percent) with U.S. allies, such as France and Germany, who oppose taking military action, but many disagree.  A plurality says they disagree but respect the position of the allies (42 percent), while just over one-third say they are “angry” these allies are not supporting the United States position on Iraq.  Undoubtedly remembering history, older Americans (of all the demographic groups) are the ones most likely to be angry with the allies (48 percent).

On the proposal made by France and Germany that would, among other things, increase the number of inspectors and give them more time, 37 percent think this is a “good plan” but a majority thinks the plan would “just delay” the inevitable invasion of Iraq (53 percent).

Today, a clear majority thinks there will definitely be a war with Iraq (63 percent), while 30 percent think war could still be prevented.  Similarly, 63 percent think it is likely (36 percent “very likely”) that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will be removed from power within the next year, while 30 percent think it is likely Saddam will still be around.

Polling was conducted by telephone February 11-12, 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. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing handling the situation with Iraq?

3. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the government is doing to protect the country from terrorism?

4. Would you say you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S. economy right now? (If optimistic/pessimistic, is that strongly or only somewhat?)

5. On a personal level, would you say you spend more time thinking about money and your financial situation or about terrorism and war with Iraq?

6. Do you support or oppose U.S. military action to disarm Iraq and remove

** Added wording: " . . . to disarm Iraq and . . ."

* Wording: " . . . action against Iraq and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein"

7. Do you think President Bush has delayed too long in taking military action against Iraq?

8. Do you agree or disagree with the statement, "It's time to get it over with in Iraq and stop the uncertainty"?

8a. Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is scheduled to make a report to the U.N. Security Council on Friday. If Blix reports that Iraq is cooperating and inspectors are making progress, do you think President Bush should delay plans for war with Iraq or has Iraq been given too many chances already?

9. Several U.S. allies, such as France, Germany, and Russia, oppose taking military action against Iraq at this time. Which of the following best describes how you feel about these countries not supporting the U.S. position on Iraq? Would you say that you:

10. France and Germany have made a proposal that would put United Nation troops in Iraq to back up the inspectors, increase the number of inspectors, and give inspections a longer time to work. Do you think this is good plan or will it only delay the inevitable need to invade Iraq?

11. Which of the following do you think is the most likely reason that France is opposed to the U.S. position on Iraq?

12. On the national level, are you more concerned about the economy or about national security?

13. If the United States goes to war with Iraq, do you believe oil prices in the United States will increase, decrease or stay about the same?

For reference: How concerned are you that war with Iraq will lead to oil shortages in the United States?

19-20 Nov 02

14. If the United States goes to war with Iraq, do you think it will help or hurt the U.S. economy? Is that (help/hurt) the economy a lot or a little?

15. Which country do you think poses the greatest immediate threat to the United States -- Iraq or North Korea? (ROTATE)

16. Would another terrorist attack in the United States make you more or less likely to support military action against Iraq?

17. Do you personally know anyone in the Armed Forces or National Guard who has been or is being sent to the Middle East for the potential military action against Iraq?

18. Do you think the United States will definitely go to war with Iraq or is there a chance that war will be prevented?
SCALE: 1. Definitely go to war 2. Chance war will be prevented 3. (Not sure)

19. If the U.S. goes to war with Iraq, do you think military action will be over relatively quickly or will military action in Iraq last a long time?

20. How likely do you think it is that Saddam Hussein will be removed from power within the next year?

21. If the United States stopped threatening military action against Iraq and just acted nice to Muslims around the world, do you think terrorist threats to the U.S. would:

22. In the war against terrorism, do you think most American Muslims:

For Reference: Do you think American Muslims support the United States in the war on terror, or not?

26-27 June 02

23. In the war against terrorism, do you think most Muslims around the world:

24. Some say that U.S. policy in Iraq will cause Arab nations to crack down on radical Muslims in their countries. Others say that U.S. policy will actually encourage the growth of radical Muslim movements. Which comes closer to your view?

25. With regard to military matters, do you generally think of yourself as a "hawk" or a "dove"? (Well, which way do you lean . . . ) ROTATE
SCALE: 1. Hawk 2. Dove 3. (Depends/Combo) 4. (Not sure)