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Attack on America: Review of Public Opinion


PRINCETON, NJ - Here is a rundown on the highlights of American public opinion as measured in the days following the September 11 attacks, with a particular focus on Gallup's latest survey completed September 14-15, 2001.

  • Presidential job approval has risen faster than any comparable "rally" event in Gallup polling history, from 51% in the weekend just prior to September 11, to 86% September 14-15.
  • Bush's current 86% job approval is just three points below the highest measured in Gallup history.
  • Over nine out of ten Americans approve of the way Bush is handling the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
  • Gallup's measure of overall satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States has gone up, not down, over the past week, rising from 43% just prior to the attacks, to 61% now.
  • Two measures of the economy - one rating the current economy and the other asking about the economy going forward - registered slight increases from the weekend before the attacks to this past weekend.
  • Most stock market investors say the terrorist attacks will make no difference in their probability of investing in the market, with little sign of investor panic.
  • Americans remain very strongly supportive of U.S. military action in reprisal for the attacks.
  • Support for military action remains strong even when Americans are reminded that it might take years, might involve ground troops, might involve American casualties, might involve a reinstatement of the draft, and might have a negative effect on the economy.
  • Americans are willing to wait until those who were responsible for the attacks are identified rather than launching attacks immediately.
  • Over 8 out of 10 Americans say that Osama bin Laden bears a great deal of responsibility for the attacks. Sixty-four percent say the same about Afghanistan.
  • The significant majority of Americans consider that the U.S. is currently at war.
  • Most Americans are willing to put up with such things as having to go through metal detectors in public places and checking in up to three hours before flights in order to increase security.
  • At the same time, Americans are not willing to sanction such things as allowing police to stop people at random on the street for searches, or making it easier for law enforcement to read mail and e-mails.
  • A majority of Americans favor having Arabs, even those who are U.S. citizens, being subjected to separate, more intensive security procedures at airports. About half of Americans favor requiring Arabs, even those who are citizens of the U.S., to carry special ID.
  • Two thirds of Americans would like to see the World Trade Center towers rebuilt.
  • The events of September 11 have affected Americans emotionally. Seven out of ten Americans, including almost six out of ten men, say that they have cried. Many have attended memorial services and expressed love for family in ways they may not usually do, and prayed.
  • Very few Americans disagree with the decision to postpone most major sporting events over this past weekend.
  • Americans have followed news of the terrorist attacks more closely than any other news story Gallup has measured in its history using the "closely followed" question.
  • About half of Americans remain at least somewhat worried that they or a family member will become a victim of a terrorist attack, down slightly from Tuesday night.

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