Bush Support Rides Wave of Anti-Terrorism

by David W. Moore

Ratings on job performance, personal characteristics soar

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- In the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States, and even before the latest military actions involving U.S. strikes in Afghanistan, Americans have given their president an extraordinary vote of confidence -- resulting in record job approval ratings and high marks on a variety of his personal characteristics.

Just prior to the attacks on Sept. 11, George W. Bush's popularity was waning, with an approval rating of just 51%, down from the 57% he received a month earlier. But three days after the attacks, 86% of Americans said they approved of the job Bush was doing as president, an increase of 35 percentage points and the largest "rally effect" ever recorded by Gallup. A week later Bush's overall approval reached 90%, eclipsing what had been the Gallup record of 89% -- achieved by the elder George Bush during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll completed this past Saturday, a day before the launch of American and British retaliatory strikes against Afghanistan, President Bush's overall job approval remained extraordinarily high, at 87%.

George W. Bush's Job Approval Rating

The same poll shows that Bush also receives high approval ratings for his handling of the economy and foreign affairs -- 72% and 81% respectively. Despite the worsening economy, Bush's rating in that area is now 18 points higher than it was in July. His foreign affairs approval rating is 27 points higher than it was in July, and is just short of the 84% approval in this area achieved by his father at the very end of the Gulf War.

Personal Characteristics

The weekend poll asked the public to rate Bush on a series of personal characteristics, and the results show that the public's current level of support for the president is generalized across a wide variety of these specific measures. On almost every measure included in the poll, the public gives Bush much higher ratings now than they did in previous CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls. Some of the characteristics were last measured in August, others in July, April, or February, and all but one ("agreement on issues" other than terrorism) show an increase of more than 10 percentage points.

As shown in the table below, Bush is most strongly perceived as being sincere, with 84% of Americans saying that characteristic applies to him. Almost eight in 10 also say he can manage government effectively. Both of these ratings are 18 percentage points higher than they were when last measured.

 

Oct 5-6

Earlier

Difference

%

%

Percentage
Points

Is sincere in what he says

84

661

+18

Can manage the government effectively

79

612

+18

Is a strong and decisive leader

75

551

+20

Inspires confidence

75

553

+20

Cares about the needs of people like you

69

574

+12

Understands complex issues

69

563

+12

Generally agrees with you on issues you care about, other than terrorism*

60

532

+7

*Previous wording: "Generally agrees with you on issues you care about."

1August 10-12, 2001; 2February 9-11, 2001; 3April 20-22, 2001; 4July10-11, 2001



Bush also gets a major boost in his ratings on being a strong and decisive leader, and inspiring confidence -- both items up 20 percentage points since the last measurement.

The increases are somewhat smaller for "cares about the needs of people like you," and understanding complex issues, up by 12 percentage points each. And on the last item, which was designed to get the public's rating exclusive of terrorism, Bush's rating has risen by just seven percentage points.

Methodology

Results are based on telephone interviews with 819 adults nationwide, aged 18+, conducted Oct. 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.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

 

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

(NA) 2001 Oct 5-6

87

10

3

       

(NA) 2001 Sep 21-22

90

6

4

(NA) 2001 Sep 14-15

86

10

4

(NA) 2001 Sep 7-10

51

39

10

(NA) 2001 Aug 24-26

55

36

9

(NA) 2001 Aug 16-19

57

34

9

(NA) 2001 Aug 10-12

57

35

8

(NA) 2001 Aug 3-5

55

35

10

(NA) 2001 Jul 19-22

56

33

11

(NA) 2001 Jul 10-11

57

35

8

(NA) 2001 Jun 28-Jul 1

52

34

14

(NA) 2001 Jun 11-17

55

33

12

(NA) 2001 Jun 8-10

55

35

10

(NA) 2001 May 18-20

56

36

8

(NA) 2001 May 10-14

56

31

13

(NA) 2001 May 7-9

53

33

14

(NA) 2001 Apr 20-22

62

29

9

(NA) 2001 Apr 6-8

59

30

11

(NA) 2001 Mar 26-28

53

29

18

(NA) 2001 Mar 9-11

58

29

13

(NA) 2001 Mar 5-7

63

22

15

(NA) 2001 Feb 19-21

62

21

17

(NA) 2001 Feb 9-11

57

25

18

(NA) 2001 Feb 1-4

57

25

18



Do you [approve/disapprove] strongly or only moderately?

 

 

Strongly approve

Moderately approve

Moderately disapprove

Strongly disapprove

No
opinion

           

(NA) 2001 Oct 5-6

60%

27

5

5

3



Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling -- [ROTATED]? How about -- ?

A. The economy

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

2001 Oct 5-6

72

23

5

       

2001 Jul 10-11

54

36

10

2001 May 18-20

51

41

8

2001 Apr 20-22 ^

55

38

7

2001 Mar 9-11

55

32

13

2001 Feb 1-4

53

27

20



B. Foreign affairs

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

2001 Oct 5-6

81

14

5

       

2001 Jul 10-11

54

33

13

2001 May 18-20

55

35

10

2001 Apr 20-22 ^

56

31

13

2001 Mar 9-11

52

27

21

2001 Feb 1-4

46

21

33

^ Based on half sample.



Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think it applies or doesn't apply to George W. Bush. How about – [ROTATED]?

A. Cares about the needs of people like you

 

 

Applies

Doesn't apply

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

2001 Oct 5-6

69

29

2

       

2001 Jul 10-11

57

40

3

2001 Apr 20-22

59

39

2

2001 Feb 9-11

56

39

5

2000 Mar 10-12

51

42

7

2000 Jan 17-19

56

33

11

1999 Sep 10-14

59

32

9

1999 Mar 12-14

59

32

9



B. Is a strong and decisive leader

 

 

Applies

Doesn't apply

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

2001 Oct 5-6

75

23

2

       

2001 Aug 10-12

55

43

2

2001 Jul 10-11

57

40

3

2001 Apr 20-22

60

37

3

2001 Feb 9-11

61

34

5

2000 Mar 10-12

63

30

7

2000 Feb 25-27

61

32

7

2000 Feb 20-21

58

33

9

2000 Feb 4-6

62

30

8

2000 Jan 17-19

66

24

10

1999 Mar 4*

60

14

26



C. Generally agrees with you on issues you care about, other than terrorism

 

 

Applies

Doesn't apply

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

2001 Oct 5-6

60

36

4

       

2001 Feb 9-11 ^

53

43

4

2000 Mar 10-12 ^

49

44

7

2000 Feb 25-27 ^

51

41

8

1999 Mar 12-14 ^

54

35

11

       

^ WORDING: Generally agrees with you on issues you care about



D. Inspires confidence

 

 

Applies

Doesn't apply

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

2001 Oct 5-6

75

24

1

       

2001 Apr 20-22

55

42

3

2001 Feb 9-11

57

39

4

2000 Mar 10-12

56

37

7

2000 Jan 17-19

60

29

11



E. Understands complex issues

 

 

Applies

Doesn't apply

No opinion

       

2001 Oct 5-6

69%

27

4

       

2001 Apr 20-22

56%

38

6

2001 Feb 9-11

55%

38

7

2000 Jan 17-19

60%

26

14



F. Is sincere in what he says

 

 

Applies

Doesn't apply

No opinion

       

2001 Oct 5-6

84%

15

1

       

2001 Aug 10-12

66%

31

3



G. Can manage the government effectively

 

 

Applies

Doesn't apply

No opinion

       
 

%

%

%

2001 Oct 5-6

79

19

2

       

2001 Feb 9-11

61

31

8

2000 Mar 10-12

64

28

8

2000 Jan 17-19

66

22

12

1999 Sep 10-14

72

19

9

1999 Mar 12-14

77

15

8



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