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Washington Post Poll: War on Terrorism

Friday, September 28, 2001

This Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone September 25-27, 2001, among a randomly selected national sample of 1,215 adults. Margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points. Sampling error is only one of many potential sources of error in this or any other public opinion poll. Fieldwork by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, PA.

*= less than 0.5 percent

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

            ---------Approve---------   --------Disapprove--------    No 
            NET   Strongly   Somewhat   NET   Strongly   Somewhat    opin.
9/27/01     90      70        20         6       3         3           4
9/13/01     86      63        23        12       6         5           2
9/9/01      55      26        29        41      22        20           3
8/12/01     61      28        33        31      17        14           8
7/30/01     59      28        30        38      22        17           3
6/3/01      55      27        28        40      22        18           6
4/22/01     63      33        30        32      16        16           5
3/25/01     58      NA        NA        33      NA        NA           8
2/25/01     55      NA        NA        23      NA        NA          22

2. Do you support or oppose taking military action against the groups or nations responsible for the recent terrorist attacks?

            Support     Oppose     No opin.
9/27/01       90           7          4
9/20/01       90           6          4
9/13/01*      93           5          2
9/11/01       94           3          3

*9/13/01 and previous: "If the United States can identify the groups or nations responsible for the recent attacks, would you support or oppose taking military action against them?"

3. (If support, Q2) What if that meant getting into a war - in that case would you support or oppose taking military action?

2/3 NET

            ------Support if war-----             No 
            NET   Strongly   Somewhat   Oppose   opin.
9/27/01     83      NA        NA          11      5
9/20/01     83      71        12          10      7
9/13/01     86      71        15          11      3
9/11/01     86      NA        NA           7      4

4. (If support, Q2) What if it meant innocent civilians in other countries might be hurt or killed - in that case would you support or oppose taking military action?

2/4 NET

            --Support if civilians killed--                 No 
            NET      Strongly      Somewhat     Oppose     opin.
9/27/01     70          50            21          24         6
9/13/01     77          NA            NA          19         4 

5. (If support, Q2) What if it meant getting into a long war with large numbers of U.S. troops killed or wounded - in that case would you support or oppose taking military action against the groups or nations responsible for these attacks?

2/5 NET

            --Support if US troops killed--                 No 
            NET      Strongly      Somewhat     Oppose     opin.
9/27/01     67          45            21          26         7
9/13/01     69          NA            NA          26         5

6/7. (If support, Q2) Do you think the United States should limit its military action only to those groups or nations responsible for last week's attacks, or should the United States mount a broader war against terrorist groups and the nations that support them? Do you feel that way strongly, or not so strongly?

2/6/7 NET

            ------Limit Action-----   ------Broader War-----   Oppose    No 
            NET   Strng   Not strng   NET   Strng   Not strg   action   opin.
9/27/01     33      28        5       54      49        5        7        7
9/20/01     24      NA       NA       63      NA       NA        6        7

8. Just your best guess, do you think the United States will go to war as a result of the recent attacks, or not?

            Yes     No     No opin.
9/27/01      79     17        5     
9/13/01      66     30        4 

9. How concerned are you about the possibility there will be more major terrorist attacks in this country - is that something that worries you a great deal, somewhat, not too much, or not at all?

           ---------Concerned---------    -------Not concerned----     No      
           NET    Grt.deal    Somewhat    NET    Not much     None     op.    
9/27/01    83        43          39       17        12          5       *
9/11/01    87        49          38       12         7          4       1
6/13/97    62        21          41       38        24         14       *
6/2/97     63        22          41       37        28          9       *
8/5/96     74        31          43       26        18          8       *
4/20/95    78        38          40       21        16          5       1

10. I am going to read you a list of things some people say the United States must do in its war on international terrorism, but others say are a lower priority.

For each, please tell me if this is something you think the United States absolutely must do, no matter what; something that would be good to do, but not essential; something that is a lower priority; or something that should not be done at all.

                                  US      Good/not      Lower     US should     No 
                                 must     essential      pri.       not do     opin. 
a. Capture or kill Osama Bin
   Laden and break up his 
   terrorist network              87          9            1           1         2
b. Overthrow the Taliban 
   government in Afghanistan      61         21            8           5         5
c. Significantly reduce the 
   number of terrorist attacks 
   against the United States      91          6            1           1         1
d. Significantly reduce the 
   number of attacks by 
   international terrorists 
   against other countries, 
   even if these attacks are 
   not directed at the United 
   States                         58         28            9           3         2
e. Overthrow Iraqi President 
   Saddam Hussein, even if he 
   cannot be linked directly 
   to the terrorist attacks in 
   New York City and Washington   39         33           17           8         3

11. Now, suppose the United States accomplishes all of these things in the next few years, including reducing terrorism in the United States and around the world.

If a major terrorist attack were still to occur like the ones in New York and Washington, would you say that the United States still had won the war on terrorism, or not?

            Yes     No     No opin.
9/27/01      28     65        7

12. How confident are you that the United States will capture or kill Osama Bin Laden: are you very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident or not at all confident?

          --------Confident--------    -------Not confident------     No   
          NET     Very     Somewhat    NET     Not too     At all    opin.    
9/27/01   81       37         44       18         14          4        1

13. How confident are you that the United States will be able to significantly reduce terrorist attacks against the United States: are you very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident or not at all confident?

          --------Confident--------    -------Not confident------     No   
          NET     Very     Somewhat    NET     Not too     At all    opin.    
9/27/01   91       37         54        8          7          2        1

Compare to:

How much confidence do you have in the ability of the U.S. government to prevent further terrorist attacks against Americans in this country: a great deal, a good amount, only a fair amount or none at all?

          --------Confident--------    -----Not confident----     No   
          NET   Grt.deal   Good amt.   NET   Fair amt.   None    opin.    
9/11/01    66      35         31        32      30         2      1       
6/2/97     35      10         26        62      52        10      3       
8/5/96     35      12         23        65      49        16      *       
5/14/95    36      12         24        63      51        12      1       
4/20/95    37      13         24        62      51        11      1       
6/28/93    59      22         37        41      32         8      1       
4/3/89     46      16         30        54      38        16      *

14. As part of the effort to combat terrorism, would you support or oppose:

                                                 Support     Oppose     No opin. 
a. Allowing wiretaps on suspected terrorists 
   to include cell phones and the internet, 
   as well as regular telephones                   90           9          1
b. Allowing court-ordered wiretaps and 
   electronic surveillance to follow a suspect 
   for up to a year, anywhere that person goes
   in the United States                            88          10          2
c. Allowing investigators to tap into voicemail 
   and e-mail messages with just a search 
   warrant, rather than a court order              75          22          3
d. Allowing electronic surveillance conducted 
   overseas by foreign governments to be used 
   in U.S. courts, even if that surveillance 
   would not have been allowed in this country     69          24          6
e. Allowing airline pilots to carry guns           68          28          4
f. Allowing prosecutors to share secret grand 
   jury information with the CIA and other 
   national security agencies                      77          16          7
g. Increasing the criminal penalties for 
   terrorism and terrorism conspiracy              95           3          2
h. Allowing the government to deport or 
   indefinitely detain any foreigner in this 
   country who is suspected of supporting 
   any organization involved in terrorism          87          12          2
   
i. Allowing the government to confiscate 
   the money in bank accounts linked to 
   terrorists                                      93           5          2
j. Creating criminal penalties for 
   money-laundering involving terrorism            95           4          1
 k. Having the federal government take over 
   security screening at U.S. airports, at 
   a cost of nearly one-point-eight billion 
   dollars a year                                  82          15          3

15. Because of the war on terrorism, would you favor or oppose postponing action on (ITEM) for at least a year:

                                      Favor     Oppose     No opin. 
a. Education reform                     32        63           5
b. Prescription drugs for seniors       22        73           5

16. How much of the time do you trust the government in Washington to do what is right? Would you say just about always, most of the time, or only some of the time?

                Just about                            None       No  
                  always       Most     Only some    (vol.)     opin.
9/27/01            13           51         35          1          *
4/2/00              4           26         64          5          *
2/14/99             3           29         63          4          1
8/27/98*            6           28         59          7          1
1/19/98             4           27         66          3          *
8/27/97             2           20         76         NA          1
5/6/96              5           29         62          4          *
11/19/95            3           22         67          6          1
3/19/95             3           19         69          8          1
10/31/94            2           18         75          4          *
1/23/94             3           21         68          8          1
1/17/93             5           23         67          5          1
1/27/91             7           39         52          2          *
10/21/91            8           28         58          5          1
3/4/91              7           38         52          3          *
1/27/91             7           39         52          2          *
9/9/90              7           35         55          2          1
1/16/90             8           31         58          3          *
1/23/88             6           34         59          2          *
6/1/87              9           39         51          1          *
1/18/87             7           37         55         NA          1
9/8/86              6           34         58          2          *
7/29/85             6           32         58          3          1
3/25/85             5           32         60          2          1
2/26/85             5           38         55          1          1
1982**              2           31         61          2          4
1980                2           23         69          4          2
1978                3           27         64          4          3
1976                3           30         62          1          3
1974                3           34         61          1          2
1972                5           48         44          1          2
1970                7           47         44          -          2
1968                7           54         36          -          2
1966               17           48         28          3          4
1964               14           62         22          -          2
1958               16           57         23          -          4

*How much of the time do you trust the government in Washington to do the right thing?
**1982 and previous: Michigan-American National Election Study


© Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company


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