Poll: Most Skeptical Saddam Will Cooperate

As United Nations inspectors started arriving in Baghdad this week, a vast majority of the public questions Saddam's willingness to cooperate with the inspection teams.

The latest FOX News national poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, shows that only slightly more than 1 in 10 Americans are at least somewhat confident (2 percent very confident) that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will cooperate fully with the UN weapons inspectors.  Most have little or no confidence that he will do so (84 percent).

The public's skepticism about Iraq's cooperation, combined with President Bush's continued strong statements that the United States is ready to take action to disarm Saddam, leads a large majority of the public to believe the country will soon be at war.  Fully 81 percent think it is likely (44 percent very likely) the United States will be at war with Iraq in the next year.  This sentiment is down slightly from six weeks ago when, prior to passage of the UN resolution restoring weapons inspectors to Iraq, 88 percent said war was likely.

In addition, a majority (70 percent) of the public is confident (42 percent very confident) that the president will make the right decision about using U.S. troops in Iraq.   Just under two-thirds are confident (27 percent very confident) that the UN inspectors will actually announce a violation by Iraq, "knowing that a violation could possibly lead to war."

Support remains fairly strong for U.S. military action to disarm Iraq and remove Saddam from power.  Today, 68 percent support military action against Iraq and 18 percent oppose.  Even so, half of Americans think the U.S. should only attack with UN agreement.

Americans are more concerned war with Iraq will hurt the U.S. economy, than that it will lead to oil shortages.  If the country goes to war, 57 percent say they are concerned war will damage the economy, and 49 percent say they are concerned about the availability of oil.

"It is clear that the consistent message of the administration about the danger of Iraq has reached most of the people," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman.  "While they have some concerns about the impacts of a potential war, they are by and large confident that the president will do the right thing."

Last week Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle caused a stir when he said Al Qaeda was "as great a threat today as they were one and a half years ago."  About half of the country agrees with him.  Forty-nine percent of Americans think the threat from al Qaeda is the same today, 27 percent say the terrorist network poses more of a threat today than it did over a year ago, and 21 percent think al Qaeda is less of a threat today.

Taking a slightly different look, more Americans think the U.S. and its allies are losing the war against terrorism than think the alliance is winning.  Just over one-third of Americans (37 percent) think the country is winning while 42 percent disagree (21 percent are unsure).  These numbers are essentially the same as in an early September poll, but are dramatically different from one year ago.  Last year at this time, 67 percent said yes, the U.S. and its allies were winning the war against terrorism, 15 percent said no and 18 percent were unsure.

Does Usama matter?  A newly released audiotape recently confirmed the terrorist leader is still alive.  Knowing bin Laden is still alive makes 45 percent of Americans think additional terrorist attacks are more likely, but half say "it doesn't matter if he is alive or not."

Americans are unclear on whether the government's color-coded terror alert system is worthwhile.  About equal numbers say the alert system is helpful (39 percent), as say it is not helpful (41 percent), with the remaining 20 percent unsure.  Few think people take the terror alerts seriously (37 percent), with half of the public saying most people ignore them.

Polling was conducted by telephone November 19-20, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. All results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted. LV = likely voters

1. Do you support or oppose U.S. military action to DISARM IRAQ AND remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein?

** Wording: " . . .to disarm Iraq and . . ."

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

2. How confident are you that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will cooperate fully with the UN inspection team?

3. How confident are you that the UN inspection team will actually announce violations by Iraq, knowing that a violation could possibly lead to war?

4. How confident are you that President Bush will make the right decision regarding the use of U.S. troops in Iraq?

5. Do you think the United States should only attack Iraq if the United Nations agrees or do you think the U.S. should maintain its right to go it alone?

6. How likely do you think it is that the U.S. will be at war with Iraq in the next year?
SCALE: 1. Very likely 2. Somewhat likely 3. Not very likely 4. Not at all likely 5. (Not sure)

7. How concerned are you that war with Iraq will lead to more terrorist attacks in the United States?

8. How concerned are you that if the United States does NOT go to war with Iraq that there will be more terrorist attacks in the United States?

9. How concerned are you that war with Iraq will lead to oil shortages in the United States?

10. How concerned are you that war with Iraq will hurt the U.S. economy?

11. Just thinking about your own personal safety, how dangerous is the situation with Iraq to you?
SCALE: 1. Very dangerous 2. Somewhat dangerous 3. Not very dangerous 4. Not at all dangerous 5. (Not sure)

12. Do you think the government's color-coded terror alert system is helpful or not?

13. Do you think most people take these alerts seriously or do they ignore them?
SCALE: 1. People take alerts seriously 2. People ignore them 3. (Not sure)

* ". . . people continue to take these alerts seriously . . ."

14. Which do you think presents more of a real danger right now?
SCALE: 1. Nuclear weapons 2. Chemical and biological weapons 3. (Equal) 4. (Not sure)

15. How well prepared do you think the U.S. government is to handle terrorist attacks using chemical or biological weapons?

16. How well prepared would you say you and your family are if a chemical or biological attack were to happen in your area?

17. Do you think the Al Qaeda terrorist network poses more of a threat or less of a threat to the United States today than it did over a year ago, or is the threat today about the same as it was over a year ago?

18. A new audiotape confirms that Usama bin Laden is still alive. Does knowing bin Laden is still alive make you think additional terrorist attacks are more likely, less likely, or do you think it doesn't matter if he is alive or not?

19. As of right now, do you think the U.S. and its allies are winning the war against terrorism?

20. 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?