Americans Express Qualified Confidence in Government on Anthrax

by Lydia Saad

Majority not worried about exposure to the disease

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans' frame of mind about the nation's anthrax problem is fairly upbeat, with the majority of Americans expressing at least qualified confidence in the government's ability to handle it. Similarly, most Americans are confident in their own families' safety from anthrax, saying they have little to no risk of exposure to it.

According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted this past weekend, Nov. 2-4, a majority of Americans are at least somewhat confident that the government is prepared to deal effectively with the health threats that could be posed by a major outbreak of anthrax: 80% are either very or somewhat confident. Only 19% express low levels of confidence. However the percentage who are "very confident" in the government's ability to handle anthrax is now just 28%, down from 34% in mid-October. An additional 52% today are "somewhat" confident.

Confidence in Gov't. to Handle Major Anthrax Outbreak

Americans are somewhat less confident in the government's ability to prevent further anthrax exposures, as only 64% say they are very or somewhat confident about this. Nevertheless, the vast majority, 76%, approves of the way the Bush administration is handling the anthrax incidents.

More Now Believe Personal Exposure Is Likely

While no new cases of anthrax exposure or infection have been reported in the last week, the weekend poll found a slight increase compared to mid-October in the number of Americans who consider it likely that they or a family member will be exposed to the potentially deadly disease. Twenty-nine percent now say this is very or somewhat likely, up from 20% in an Oct. 19-21 survey. More than two-thirds, 69%, think it is unlikely that they will be exposed.

Despite the increase in Americans' perception that they may be at risk of exposure to anthrax, their worry about it has remained exactly the same since October. Just one-third of Americans say they are very or somewhat worried about themselves or a family member being exposed to anthrax, while two-thirds are generally not worried. The stability in this measure could be due to the fact that most of the anthrax cases thus far have proved treatable with antibiotics, thus allaying initial public fears.

One in Four Using Caution With Mail

In line with their sense of security from anthrax exposure, Americans' personal response to the spate of cases across the country appears to be quite restrained. Gallup polling over the past month has found few people taking any protective measures. The most common reaction is using greater caution in handling mail: 27% now report doing this, up slightly from 23% in mid-October.

By comparison, Gallup's mid-October survey found just 11% reporting that they had already avoided airline travel and only 10% had consulted a Web site or other source of information about terrorism preparedness. Less than 10% of Americans had already stockpiled household provisions, avoided public events and crowds, or purchased a weapon. Less than 5% had discussed bioterrorism with a physician, tried to get an anthrax or a smallpox vaccine, or purchased a gas mask or other protective clothing.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,012 adults, 18 years and older, conducted Nov 2-4, 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 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 the George W. Bush is handling each of the following? How about -- [ITEM A, THEN ITEMS B-D ROTATED]?

BASED ON -- 468 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A; ±5 PCT. PTS.

A. The economy

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

 

%

%

%

       

2001 Nov 2-4

71

24

5

       

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. U.S. military action abroad to fight terrorism

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Nov 2-4

87%

10

3



C. Efforts to prevent future terrorism in the U.S. in general

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Nov 2-4

85%

13

2



D. The response to the recent incidents involving anthrax

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Nov 2-4

75%

17

8



BUSH APPROVAL SUMMARY TABLE

 

2001 Nov 2-4
(sorted by "approve")

Approve

Disapprove

 

%

%

U.S. military action abroad to fight terrorism

87

10

Efforts to prevent future terrorism in the U.S. in general

85

13

The response to the recent incidents involving anthrax

75

17

The economy

71

24



Now, thinking about the members of the Bush administration, including his Cabinet secretaries and top advisors -- but not Bush himself -- do you approve or disapprove of the way the Bush administration is handling each of the following? How about -- [ITEM A, THEN ITEMS B-D ROTATED]?

BASED ON -- 544 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B; ±4 PCT. PTS.

A. The economy

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Nov 2-4

70%

23

7



B. U.S. military action abroad to fight terrorism

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Nov 2-4

88%

10

2



C. Efforts to prevent future terrorism in the U.S. in general

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Nov 2-4

82%

13

5



D. The response to the recent incidents involving anthrax

 

 

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

       

2001 Nov 2-4

76%

19

5



BUSH ADMINISTRATION APPROVAL SUMMARY TABLE

 

2001 Nov 2-4
(sorted by "approve")

Approve

Disapprove

 

%

%

U.S. military action abroad to fight terrorism

88

10

Efforts to prevent future terrorism in the U.S. in general

82

13

The response to the recent incidents involving anthrax

76

19

The economy

70

23



How likely is it that you or someone in your family will be exposed to anthrax -- very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

 


Very
likely


Somewhat likely


Not too
likely


Not at all likely

ALREADY EXPOSED (vol.)


No
opinion

             

2001 Nov 2-4

5%

24

45

24

*

2

             

2001 Oct 19-21 ^

4%

16

41

37

1

1

             

^

Based on half sample

(vol.)

Volunteered response

*

Less than 0.5%



How worried are you that you or someone in your family will be exposed to anthrax -- very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all?

BASED ON -- 468 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 

 


Very worried


Somewhat worried


Not too worried

Not
worried
at all

ALREADY EXPOSED (vol.)


No
opinion

             

2001 Nov 2-4

10%

24

37

28

0

1

             

2001 Oct 19-21

7%

27

35

31

0

*

             

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response



How worried are you that you or someone in your family will be exposed to anthrax through the mail -- very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all?

BASED ON -- 544 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 

 


Very worried


Somewhat worried


Not too worried

Not
worried
at all

ALREADY EXPOSED (vol.)


No
opinion

             

2001 Nov 2-4

9%

26

42

23

0

*

             

* Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response



How confident are you in the ability of the United States government to respond effectively to the health threats posed by a major outbreak of anthrax? Are you -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

BASED ON -- 468 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 

 

Very
confident

Somewhat
confident

Not too
confident

Not at all
confident

No
opinion

           

2001 Nov 2-4

28%

52

14

5

1

           

2001 Oct 19-21 ^

34%

43

17

5

1

           

^

WORDING: How confident are you in the ability of the United States to respond effectively to the health threats posed by each of the following -- are you -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident? How about -- a major outbreak of anthrax?



How confident are you in the ability of the United States government to prevent additional people from being exposed to anthrax? Are you -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

BASED ON -- 544 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B; ±5 PCT. PTS.

 

Very
confident

Somewhat
confident

Not too
confident

Not at all
confident

No
opinion

           

2001 Nov 2-4

14%

50

24

10

2



I'm going to read you something people may do because of their concern about terrorism. Please tell me whether using more caution in handling mail is something you have done, something you are seriously considering, something you are not seriously considering, or something you haven't even thought about.

 



Done it


Seriously considering it


Not seriously considering it

Haven't thought
about it


No
opinion

           

2001 Nov 2-4

27%

22

21

29

1

           

2001 Oct 19-21 ^

23%

30

16

30

1

           

^

WORDING: Next, I'm going to read you some things people may do because of their concern about terrorism. For each one, please tell me if it is something you have done, something you are seriously considering, something you are not seriously considering, or something you haven't even thought about. How about -- Using more caution in handling mail?



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