Warning System Hasn’t Caused Too Much Terror

Posted February 25, 2003 at 12:20pm

Duct Tape and Terror Warnings. Two percent in Gallup’s Feb. 17-19 poll said they bought duct tape after the government raised the threat alert; 57 percent said they had it on hand. [IMGCAP(1)]

In the Feb. 11-12 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, 50 percent said the color-coded terror alert system was helpful. Thirty-seven percent said it was not. Eighty-four percent correctly identified the alert level when the poll was taken. Ninety percent said they had gone about their life as usual when the terror alert was raised. Forty-three percent said they would change their plans if the alert were raised to the highest level, but 53 percent said they would go about their business pretty much as usual.

Thirty-seven percent in the CBS/New York Times’ Feb. 10-12 poll said the terror warnings made them feel mostly secure; 40 percent said they made them feel mostly anxious.

Rating Congress. In the mid-February Harris Interactive survey, 38 percent had a positive (excellent or pretty good) opinion of the job Democrats in Congress are doing, and 54 percent had a negative one (only fair or poor). Forty-three percent had a positive view of Republicans in Congress and 49 percent a negative one. Ratings for both (and for President Bush) are down sharply from the immediate post-Sept. 11, 2001, period.

France Falls. When Fox News/Opinion Dynamics asked people on Feb. 11-12 to give the most likely reason that France is opposed to the U.S. position on Iraq, a plurality, 31 percent, said the opposition was because France had financial and oil interests in Iraq. Twenty-three percent said it was because France sincerely believes peace is possible, and 11 percent said that the country was afraid to fight.

Opinions about France declined sharply in Gallup’s latest poll, from 79 percent favorable a year ago to 59 percent favorable today.

Gov. Ryan and the Rest of Us. When ABC News and Washington Post pollsters asked people in states with the death penalty whether they would support or oppose their governor if he or she changed the sentence of every death row inmate there to life in prison, 39 percent said they would support their governor and 58 percent were opposed. People surveyed were told about former Illinois Gov. George Ryan’s (R) decision.

Sixty-four percent of the national sample in the survey supported the death penalty when no alternative was given. (The number was identical in the Jan. 15-16 poll by Harris Interactive, Time and CNN.) When asked whether they preferred the death penalty or life in prison for people convicted of murder, 49 percent said the death penalty and 45 percent mandatory life terms.

The Environment: Not in the News. In the Princeton Survey Research Associates and Pew Research Center poll from January, when people were asked about 19 possible priorities for the president and Congress, “protecting the environment” tied with dealing with moral breakdown for 16th place. Twenty-five percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats said it should be a top priority.

In the Jan. 15-16 Harris Interactive, Time and CNN poll, 47 percent said Bush was doing a good job handling the environment, and 40 percent a poor job. In July, 42 percent approved and 46 percent disapproved of his performance.

In the late January-early February Los Angeles Times poll, 48 percent approved of the way Bush was handling the nation’s environmental issues, and 30 percent disapproved. Opinion tipped slightly toward Bush (47 percent to 43 percent) when people were asked about his proposal to consider opening up part of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration.

SUVs and Terrorism: No Link. In the mid-January Harris Interactive, Time and CNN poll, 23 percent said they owned an SUV. When the views of SUV owners and nonowners were compared on issues such as poor gas mileage (68 percent of SUV owners and 69 percent on nonowners said this was true), danger to occupants of other cars because of their size (53 percent and 55 percent true), and safety for occupants because of their size (68 percent to 62 percent), opinions were similar. Thirty-eight percent of SUV owners thought the possibility of rollovers was a problem. Fifty-four percent of the national sample said they were.

Ten percent of SUV owners and 16 percent of nonowners agreed that people who own SUVs “unintentionally support terrorism because SUVs use large amounts of fuel, some of which is purchased from countries that support terrorists.” Around seven in 10 in both groups said Congress should require SUVs to get better mileage.