Will Iraq Debate on Intelligence Hurt Support for Bush?

Posted July 22, 2003 at 2:37pm

It’s a little too early to tell whether partisan pummeling on pre-war intelligence will take a toll on President Bush’s long-term support. [IMGCAP(1)]

It’s interesting to note, however, that in the July 10-11 Princeton Survey Research Associates/Newsweek poll, 72 percent of those surveyed said they had not ‘seen, heard or read anything in the news” about the Bush administration’s acknowledgment that Bush ‘was incorrect when he said in his State of the Union speech that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium in Africa.”

In the same poll, 38 percent (virtually unchanged from 36 percent in late May) said the administration ‘purposely misled the public about evidence that Iraq had banned weapons in order to build support for war.”

A majority of Americans — 54 percent — says Bush had not ‘deliberately misled the public,” according to a July 16-17 Harris Interactive/Time/CNN poll. Forty-one percent said the administration deliberately misled the public.

Fifty percent of those surveyed said they were ‘not disappointed” by the president for putting an ‘incorrect statement” in the State of the Union address, while 44 percent said they were disappointed.

The Economy. Thirty-two percent told Fox News/Opinion Dynamics in July 15-16 interviewing that there was a Democratic presidential candidate who could do a better job of handling the economy than Bush, but 50 percent said there was not.

In the early June Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, 39 percent approved of the economic policies being passed by Congress, and 38 percent disapproved.

Representing the Majority? In a Program on International Policy Attitudes/Knowledge Networks poll from mid-June, 24 percent said the Republican Party in Congress more often votes the way the majority of the American public would, 25 percent said the Democratic Party did, and 43 percent said both did so about equally.

Postal Service Privatization. The move to privatize government services has gained steam in recent decades and is likely to resurface soon as the commission appointed by Bush to study ways to improve the Postal Service will issue its final report.

Although news reports have suggested that privatizing the agency is off the table, it’s interesting to look at historical attitudes toward privatizing the Postal Service.

In 1939, in what was probably the first comprehensive poll on the role the federal government should play in our lives, Roper/ Fortune interviewers found that 87 percent thought the government should run all of the postal and parcel-post service, 5 percent some of it and 4 percent none.

In 1988 RoperASW revisited the subject. Forty-six percent that year thought it would be a good idea to have government subcontract the Postal Service to private companies, and 45 percent thought it was a bad idea. When the firm asked the question in 1995, the public split once again, 45 percent to 43 percent.

In 1999, after the Postal Service raised the price of a stamp, 22 percent told Associated Press pollsters that the agency was doing an excellent job and 50 percent a good one. Fourteen percent described the price of a stamp as a bargain, 50 percent about right and 32 percent too expensive.

In a 2001 survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 83 percent said the Postal Service was doing a generally good job in serving its customers. Three percent said that they or someone in their household worked for the Postal Service.

American Optimism. Eurobarometer, the polling arm of the European Union, has been surveying attitudes among European countries for a quarter-century. Harris Interactive conducted a survey in April using some of the same questions to come up with comparisons between U.S. and European attitudes.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans told Harris that they are very satisfied with their lives, higher than the European average of 21 percent. Forty-nine percent of Americans said their lives have improved in the past five years, compared with 36 percent of Europeans. And 63 percent here expect their personal situation will improve in the next five years, a view shared by 40 percent of Europeans.

Europe is not a monolith, of course, and attitudes differed in the 15 countries in which the survey was conducted, but Americans were generally more optimistic. The Eurobarometer data that Harris Interactive used for comparison was collected in spring 2002.