Public Overwhelmingly Backs Bush in Attacks on Afghanistan

by David W. Moore

Expects new terrorist attacks

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- An overwhelming majority of Americans approve of the United States launching military attacks in Afghanistan Sunday and of the way President George W. Bush is handling the campaign against terrorism. A special CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Sunday night also shows widespread support for taking additional military action in Afghanistan, even if it entails U.S. ground troops and results in Afghan civilians getting killed, and for attacking other countries that the U.S. government believes are harboring terrorists. Americans do not expect, however, that such actions are risk-free. More than eight in 10 now believe it is likely that there will be further terrorist attacks in the United States over the next several weeks, up from polling conducted two weeks ago. Most Americans also expect that the fighting in Afghanistan will last at least several months, with about half expecting the war there to last a year or more.

Overwhelming Approval

The poll was conducted between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, within hours after the announcement that the United States and Great Britain had launched missile and bombing attacks on at least three cities in Afghanistan. According to the poll, 90% of Americans approve of the United States taking such military action, while just 5% are opposed, and another 5% are unsure. By about the same margin, 92% to 5%, Americans also approve of the way Bush is handling the campaign against terrorism. By way of comparison, 79% approved of the decision on January 16, 1991 to initiate the air war against Iraq at the beginning of the Persian Gulf War.

As you may know, the United States and Great Britain launched attacks on at least three cities in Afghanistan today in retaliation for the terrorist attacks that occurred in the U.S. on September 11th.

Do you approve or disapprove of the U.S. taking military action in Afghanistan today?

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Oct 7

90%

5

5



Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the campaign against terrorism?

 

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Oct 7

92%

5

3



There is some second-guessing about the timing of the attacks, with 14% of Americans saying the action should have been started earlier, and 9% saying the United States should have waited longer. Still, 72% of Americans say the United States waited just the right amount of time.

Which of the following comes closest to your view -- [ROTATED: the U.S. should have launched military action before now, the U.S. waited the right amount of time to take military action, (or) the U.S. should have waited longer before taking military action]?

 

 

Should have launched
before now


Waited the right amount of time


Should have waited longer


No
opinion

         

2001 Oct 7

14%

72

9

5



Support Military Action -- Even if U.S. Ground Troops Involved, Afghan Civilians Killed

The poll also shows that Americans are ready for more than air strikes against Afghanistan, as 77% would favor additional direct military action in that country even if U.S. ground troops are used, while just 17% would be opposed. This represents a 10-percentage-point increase over those favoring such action in the two days before the Sunday attacks.

If Afghan civilians are killed, support for military action drops by 12 percentage points, but still registers at more than a two-to-one margin in favor, 65% to 27%.

Looking ahead, would you favor or oppose the United States taking additional direct military action in Afghanistan if -- ?

A. U.S. ground troops were to be used

 

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

       

2001 Oct 7

77%

17

6

       

2001 Oct 5-6 ^

67%

28

5

       

^

WORDING: Do you favor or oppose the United States taking direct military action using ground troops in Afghanistan?
Based on half sample.



B. Afghan civilians are killed as a result of the military action

 

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

       

2001 Oct 7

65%

27

8



War Against Other Countries

In addition to military action in Afghanistan, Americans are willing to see the United States attack other countries that the government believes are harboring terrorists: 78% support it, while 16% do not.

Do you believe the U.S. should -- or should not -- take military action against other countries that the U.S. believes are harboring terrorists?

 

 

Should

Should not

No opinion

       

2001 Oct 7

78%

16

6



Long War

Bush administration officials have stressed that the war against terrorism will be a long and complex one. The American public seems to have assimilated that message. Just 10% of Americans expect the fighting to last only a few weeks or less, while 34% say it will last several months. Almost half say it will last at least a year: 26% say it will last a year or two, and 22% say more than two years.

Now that the United States has taken military action, do you think the fighting in Afghanistan will continue for -- [ROTATED: a few weeks or less, several months, a year or two, (or) more than two years]?

 

 

A few weeks or less

Several
months

A year
or two

More than two years

No
opinion

           

2001 Oct 7

10%

34

26

22

8



New Terrorist Attacks

The administration has also warned that the attacks have increased the probability of additional terrorist activity within this country. The FBI on Sunday told law enforcement agencies across the country to be on high alert. There is significant agreement on the part of the American public that additional terrorist activities may occur. Overall, 83% of Americans say it is likely there will be further terrorist attacks in the United States over the next several weeks -- 41% say "very" and 42% say "somewhat" likely. This marks a significant increase from a Gallup poll conducted two weeks ago, when only 22% of Americans said "very" likely and 44% "somewhat" likely.

How likely is it that there will be further terrorist attacks in the United States over the next several weeks -- very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

 

 

Very
likely

Somewhat likely

Not too
likely

Not at all likely

No
opinion

           

2001 Oct 7

41%

42

9

4

4

           

2001 Sep 21-22

22%

44

24

8

2



Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with -- 660 -- national adults, aged 18+, conducted October 7, 2001. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/4966/Public-Overwhelmingly-Backs-Bush-Attacks-Afghanistan.aspx
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