In the poll, 52 percent said they thought the U.S. was adequately prepared, compared to 39 percent who said the U.S. was not prepared. This is the first time since March 2003 - right after the U.S. invasion of Iraq - that a majority held that opinion. As recently as last September, after the revelations of a failed terrorist plot in London that summer, 56 percent said the U.S. was not adequately prepared.
However, only about a third of Americans think another terror attack against the U.S. is likely in the coming months - with 29 percent saying it is somewhat likely and just seven percent saying it was very likely, the lowest number recorded since CBS News started asking this question after September 11, 2001. Six in ten Americans think it is not very likely there will be another terrorist attack.
A majority of men, Republicans and Independents, conservatives and moderates and voters who supportfor president all think the U.S. is prepared, while women, Democrats, liberals, and supporters are divided.
Americans give some credit to the Bush administration for making the country safer. Fifty percent say the administration's policies have improved the country's safety, about the same rating as they have given the White House for the last two years. Twenty-one percent say the administration's policies have made the country less safe, and 23 percent say they have had no effect.
President Bush's approval rating is now at 29 percent, slightly above the low of 25 percent reached this past summer. His approval has not climbed above 30 percent since April 2007.
The poll also finds that Americans do not have much confidence that the U.S. will capture or kill al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. Only 36 percent think bin Laden's capture is even somewhat likely, and only six percent think it is very likely - the lowest numbers recorded so far. Confidence in bin Laden's capture has declined dramatically over the seven years since 9/11 - in October 2001, 70 percent thought it was at least somewhat likely that bin Laden would be captured or killed. Now, almost that many, 60 percent, have little or no confidence in that happening.
This poll was conducted by telephone September 5-7, 2008 among 738 respondents first interviewed by CBS News and the New York Times August 15-19, 2008. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire could be plus or minus four percentage points.