Poll: Bush Approval Rating 92 Percent


Oct. 10, 2001 -- Americans are putting a brave face on the uncertainties of war, voicing record levels of support for the president; endorsing further, broader military action; and even expressing majority confidence that the nation could deal with a chemical or biological attack.

George W. Bush's job approval rating soared to 92 percent in this poll, the highest on record in ABCNEWS polls, and Gallup polls before them, dating to the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Seventy-six percent approve "strongly" of Bush's performance.

While jitters exist, their intensity has eased. Thirty-six percent express a "great deal" of worry about more major terrorist attacks — but that's down from 49 percent the night of Sept. 11. Thirty-seven percent express high-level anxiety specifically about a biological or chemical attack.

While high-level concern has moderated, people aren't in denial: Eight in 10 do express worry about more attacks, if not necessarily a "great deal" of worry. But that has not increased lately. Despite the airstrikes on Afghanistan and news coverage of two cases of anthrax exposure in Florida, the public is keeping reasonably cool.

In a more personal gauge, 44 percent are worried that they, or a close relative or friend, might be the victim of a further terrorist attack. Again, though, this has not increased since the night of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Worries on these issues tend to run higher among women than among men. Fifty-four percent of women express worry that they or a loved one might be the victim of a terror attack; this falls to 33 percent of men. And 44 percent of women express a "great deal" of concern about further terrorism, compared to 28 percent of men.

Readiness — Three gauges show the extent to which the public has placed its trust in the hands of government. First, seven in 10 Americans now say the country is "doing all it reasonably can do" to try to prevent further terrorism — a reversal from the majority view that government could have done more to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks.

Additionally, three-quarters of Americans express at least some confidence in the federal government's ability to respond effectively to a biological attack, despite some reports to the contrary. And more than six in 10 also express some confidence in their local authorities' ability to deal with bioterrorism.

This confidence is not deep, however: Just 23 percent are "very" confident the federal government can deal effectively with bioterrorism, and fewer are very confident in their local authorities.

The War — Support remains very high for the current U.S. military action against targets in Afghanistan, and for possible future action. Ninety-two percent support the airstrikes. Seventy-six percent support sending "a significant number of U.S. ground troops" to overthrow the Taliban. And 87 percent support military action against other countries that assist or shelter terrorists.

Support for all these is as high among women as it is among men — an extraordinary result, since woman usually are less apt to support the use of military force. It's another sign of the extent to which the public has closed ranks.

Back to Bush — It's unlikely that any figure underscores the public's closing of the ranks as well as the president's job approval rating. On Sept. 9 just 55 percent approved of his work in office — fewer than usual at that point in a presidency — and only 26 percent approved strongly.

Since then Bush's approval rating has soared by 37 points, the sharpest climb on record, to a record high. And his "strong" approval has increased nearly threefold.

Partisan and ideological divisions have diminished radically: Eighty-seven percent of liberals and 88 percent of Democrats approve of the president's performance, and two-thirds in both these groups approve strongly.

Among Republicans, meanwhile, Bush's job approval rating is 99 percent — probably as close to 100 as any president has ever come.

Methodology — This ABCNEWS poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 8-9, 2001, among a random national sample of 1,009 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Field work by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, Pa.

Previous ABCNEWS polls can be found in our Poll Vault.

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