Bush Approval at 66%

by David W. Moore

Few blame administration for recent terrorist attacks

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted May 19-21, finds 66% of Americans approving of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president, down slightly from the 69% registered earlier this month, and the 70% he averaged in four polls conducted in April, but still above the prewar level of 58%. The poll also finds that few people are willing to assign very much blame to the Bush administration for recent terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco, and that most people have confidence in the administration to protect the country from future terrorist attacks. Americans are less likely now than earlier this year to believe that there will be further acts of terrorism in the United States.

After 9/11, Bush's approval rating soared to record levels, hitting 90% and then gradually declining over the next year and a half, finally dipping below 60% in January of this year. It languished at that level for the next couple of months, but surged again after the president ordered troops into Iraq. But the surge, although one of the larger ones in Gallup polling history, was muted in comparison with the 9/11 rally. Approval went from 58% just before the war with Iraq began on March 19, to 71% the following weekend.

George W. Bush's Job Approval Rating

The current 66% rating still represents an unusually high level of approval for a president in his third year in office, though the international events of the past three years are no less unusual.

Threat of Terrorism -- Ever-Present Issue

In early May, after the military action with Iraq was essentially over, Americans said the administration should now give a higher priority to the nation's economy than to the threat of terrorism, by a 62% to 27% margin. But in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco and the declaration of the high, "orange" level of alert in this country, that margin has declined, with 49% emphasizing the economy and 33% the war on terrorism.

Higher Priority: Threat of Terrorism or
Economic Problems?

Winning the War on Terrorism

Immediately after the cessation of major fighting in Iraq, a Gallup Poll showed 65% of Americans saying the United States and its allies were winning the war on terrorism. That represented a substantial increase from the previous polling conducted in March, when only 37% of Americans took that position. Now, following the attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco, the percentage saying the United States and its allies are winning has declined to 54%, but that still represents only the second time since March 2002 that the majority of Americans have said the United States and its allies are winning.

Who Is Winning the War on Terrorism?

Concern About Terrorism

More than half of all Americans (57%) say it is either very (12%) or somewhat (45%) likely that there will be further acts of terrorism in the United States over the next several weeks. This is actually a lower level of concern than was measured in March or February of this year. In March, just after the war with Iraq began, 73% of Americans thought it likely there would be new acts of terrorism. Gallup last found a percentage as low as today's in September of last year.

Perceived Likelihood of Terrorism in the
United States in the Next Few Weeks

Little Blame for Bush Administration

While some critics are assigning partial blame to the Bush administration for the latest terrorist attacks, suggesting that not enough effort was put into finding and destroying the al Qaeda terrorist group, most Americans exonerate the administration. Just 27% blame the administration either a "great deal" (8%) or "moderate amount" (19%), while 71% give the administration little (26%) or no (45%) blame.

How Much Do You Blame the Bush Administration
for Recent Attacks?
May 19-21, 2003

A separate question finds that most people express confidence in the Bush administration to protect the country from future acts of terrorism: 79% saying they have either a great deal (35%) or moderate amount (44%) of confidence, and only 20% saying not much (15%) or none at all (5%).

How Much Confidence Do You Have in the Bush Administration to Protect Citizens From Future Acts of Terrorism?
May 19-21, 2003

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,005 national adults, aged 18+, conducted May 19-21, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±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.

Which do you think the Bush administration should now give a higher priority to -- [ROTATED: dealing with the threat of terrorism, (or) dealing with the country's economic problems]?

 


Threat of terrorism

Country's economic problems


BOTH
(vol.)


NEITHER
(vol.)


No
opinion

2003 May 19-21

33

49

17

*

1

2003 May 5-7 ^

27

62

10

*

1

*

Less than 0.5%

(vol.) Volunteered response

^

Asked of a half sample.



How likely is it that there will be further acts of terrorism 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

%

%

%

%

%

2003 May 19-21

12

45

32

8

3

2003 Mar 22-23

21

52

20

6

1

2003 Feb 7-9 ^

16

50

23

9

2

2002 Sep 13-16 ^

12

44

31

10

3

2002 Sep 2-4

12

48

28

9

3

2002 Jul 5-8 ^

15

41

30

12

2

2002 May 20-22 ^

21

44

25

7

3

2002 Mar 8-9 ^

9

43

32

13

3

2001 Dec 14-16 ^

17

45

27

8

3

2001 Nov 2-4 ^

24

50

16

6

4

2001 Oct 19-21 ^

40

45

10

3

2

2001 Oct 7 † ‡

41

42

9

4

4

2001 Sep 21-22 ‡

22

44

24

8

2

^

Asked of a half sample.

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.

WORDING: 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?



Who do you think is currently winning the war against terrorism -- [ROTATED: the U.S. and its allies, neither side, or the terrorists]?

 

U.S. and
its allies

Neither
side

The
terrorists

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 May 19-21

54

32

11

3

2003 Apr 22-23

65

28

5

2

2003 Mar 3-5 ^

37

43

17

3

2003 Jan 31-Feb 2 ^

35

44

16

5

2002 Dec 5-8 ^

33

46

19

2

2002 Oct 14-17 ^

32

44

21

3

2002 Aug 5-8 ^

37

46

14

3

2002 Jul 5-8

39

43

16

2

2002 Jun 21-23

33

49

14

4

2002 May 28-29

41

35

15

9

2002 Apr 22-24

47

39

10

4

2002 Mar 22-24

51

35

12

2

2002 Mar 4-7

53

34

10

3

2002 Jan 7-9 ^

66

25

7

2

2001 Dec 6-9

64

28

5

3

2001 Nov 8-11 ^

53

33

11

3

2001 Oct 11-14

42

44

11

3

^

Asked of a half sample.



 

Q.9-10 SPLIT SAMPLED

As you may know, in recent weeks, there have been terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco, which have been linked to Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization known as al Qaeda. How much do you blame the Bush administration for these attacks -- a great deal, a moderate amount, not much, or not at all?

BASED ON -- 505 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

 

Great
deal

Moderate amount

Not
much


Not at all

No
opinion

2003 May 19-21

8%

19

26

45

2



How much confidence do you have in the Bush administration to protect its citizens from future acts of terrorism -- a great deal, a moderate amount, not much, or none at all?

BASED ON -- 509 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

 

Great
deal

Moderate amount

Not
much


None at all

No
opinion

2003 May 19-21

35%

44

15

5

1



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