War On Terror Still Asset For Bush

George Bush Homeland security anti terror CBS/AP

His management of the fight against terrorism continues to be President George W. Bush's strong suit – it is the only area where a majority approves of his performance, and Bush inspires the confidence of more voters than Kerry does to make the right decisions about how to protect the country from terrorist attack.

However, this issue is by no means a slam-dunk for the President. Only 37% of Americans -- and 39% of voters -- think the U.S. is currently winning the war against terrorism; that is the lowest level since January 2003, and is far lower than has been seen any other time in the past year. Just as many think neither side is winning, and, in the aftermath of numerous kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq, the percentage that thinks the terrorists are winning has doubled.

Now
U.S. and allies
37%
Neither side
38%
Terrorists
18%


12/2003
U.S. and allies
52%
Neither side
33%
Terrorists
9%

5/2003
U.S. and allies
61%
Neither side
26%
Terrorists
9%

2/2003
U.S. and allies
38%
Neither side
39%
Terrorists
18%

The poll was conducted mostly before the Sunday announcement of specific terror threats against financial institutions. And the concern about a terror attack, which rose in July, was high even before the announcement. Two thirds think another attack against the U.S. is likely in the next few months, including 19% who think that is very likely.

THE CANDIDATES ON TERROR

While a majority of voters say they have confidence that both Bush and Kerry will make the right decisions when it comes to protecting the country from a terrorist attack, 41% of voters say they have "a lot" of confidence that Bush would make the right decisions on terrorism, compared to 28% who have "a lot" of confidence in Kerry on this matter. Opinions of both Kerry and Bush have changed little since June on this question.

The President's approval rating on handling terrorism is still relatively high -- 52% say they approve of how he is handling the campaign against terrorism, while 41% disapprove.

BUSH'S HANDLING OF TERRORISM
Approve
52%
Disapprove
41%

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


This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,052 adults, interviewed by telephone July 30-August 1, 2004. There were 881 registered voters in the sample. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for the full sample and for the sample of registered voters.
  • Joel Roberts

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