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Teen Views on Bush, Terrorism, and Iraq

by Steve Crabtree

New Gallup Youth Survey data* indicate that American teens' opinions on key questions regarding President Bush and the possibility of war with Iraq very closely mirror those of the adult population. The poll explored the views of 1,200 teens (aged 13 to 17) on a wide range of topics, including the looming war and the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks.

Presidential Approval

As in the adult population, the president's approval rate among teens is currently in the upper-50s range (59%).

Boys are slightly more likely than girls to say they approve of the president's performance. Gallup's most recent reading of Bush's approval among adults (from a poll conducted Feb. 13-17) resulted in very similar figures, with 58% approving overall, including 63% of men and 55% of women.

Invasion of Iraq

The level of support among teens for a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq is almost identical to their level of presidential approval.

Overall, almost 6 in 10 teens say they favor a U.S. invasion to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The gender gap is a little more distinct on this question: two-thirds (66%) of boys say they favor a ground invasion, compared to about half (49%) of girls. Again, the latest figures among the adult population are very similar. The total percentage of adults who favor invading Iraq is 59%, including 66% of men and 53% of women.

Terrorism-Related Stress

One of the arguments against war with Iraq is the idea that it may encourage future terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens. A Gallup Poll conducted the weekend after the Bush administration raised the terrorist threat designation to "orange," Feb. 7-9, found an increased level of fear for their own security among U.S. adults, which has since subsided.

How worried are teens that their safety or that of their families will be compromised because of terrorist activities? Half express some level of anxiety: 12% say they are "very" worried, and another 38% say "somewhat" worried. Thirty-four percent say they are "not very" worried, while 15% say they are "not at all" worried. Again, there is a noticeable gender difference: 43% of boys say they are very or somewhat worried, compared to 58% of girls.

Interestingly, the significant rise in fear found among Americans adults following the Bush administration's Feb. 7 announcement that it was raising the terror threat designation from "yellow" to "orange" doesn't appear in these teen results: 49% of teens who took the survey prior to Feb. 7 said they are "very" or "somewhat" worried, as did 52% who responded Feb. 7 to Feb. 10. Among adults, 48% of Americans in a poll taken Feb. 7-9 said that they were either very (13%) or somewhat (35%) worried that they would become a victim of terrorism, up significantly from 39% two weeks earlier (see Related Items).

*The Gallup Youth Survey is conducted via an Internet methodology provided by Knowledge Networks, using an online research panel that is designed to be representative of the entire U.S. population. The current questionnaire was completed by 1,200 respondents aged 13 to 17 between Jan. 23 and Feb. 10, 2003. For a complete description of the sampling and weighting procedures used to conduct the survey, click here.

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