Rating Bush And The Terror Alerts

President Bush 4-8-02 AP

News stories and official warnings from the government about the possibility of new terrorist attacks on American soil appear to be having an impact.

A CBS News poll released Monday shows 33 percent of those surveyed said they believe another terrorist attack is "very likely," as opposed to 25 percent who said that a week ago. It's the highest number since last October, when 53 percent said they thought another terrorist strike was very likely.

An even larger number of respondents - 41 percent - said this week that they think a terrorist attack is "somewhat likely." A week ago, that number was 47 percent. Just 23 percent said this week that they think an attack is "not likely," down two percentage points from a week ago, and considerably higher than last October, when only 10 percent thought another attack "not likely."

The Bush administration's policy of issuing terror alerts even when there are no specifics to cite also won high marks in the survey, with 71 percent saying the terror alerts are a good idea, and 25 percent saying they are a bad idea.

In the past week, there have been revelations about information that might have been available to the Bush administration before Sept. 11, and subsequent demands for investigations on how the intelligence community and law enforcement agencies could have worked together to do a better job to prevent terrorism.

Whatever might have been known or not known, the CBS poll shows that 67 percent of all respondents believe the Bush administration was not paying enough attention to terrorism before Sept. 11. Overall, 83 percent said the administration is now devoting enough attention to the problem. Another 14 percent said they still don't think the Bush administration is doing enough.

Mr. Bush continues to enjoy a very high approval rating, but it has dipped to 71 percent, the lowest point for him since the attacks.

Broken down along party lines, the president's approval rating is 91 percent among Republicans; a still robust 53 percent among Democrats; and an even healthier 67 percent among Independents.

Disapproval ratings for Mr. Bush weigh in at 18 percent overall; 5 percent among Republicans; 33 percent among Democrats; and 18 percent among Independents.

Of all respondents, 11 percent preferred not to answer that question.


This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 681 adults, interviewed by telephone May 19-20, 2002. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

  • Francie Grace

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