Saddam and Al Qaeda: Americans Continue to Think There Was a Link

Posted July 6, 2004 at 2:41pm

Despite assertions by critics of President Bush, Americans continue to believe. Asked by Fox News and Opinion Dynamics whether “there was a partnership between Iraq and the terrorist group al Qaeda under Saddam Hussein’s regime,” 56 percent agreed and 28 percent disagreed. The survey, taken June 22-23, found that 68 percent said it was very or somewhat likely that Hussein had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks — still a high proportion, despite falling from 79 percent in late October-early November 2001. [IMGCAP(1)]

In a Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll, 67 percent told interviewers June 21-23 that Hussein had long-established ties to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.

In the June 17-20 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 62 percent thought Iraq provided direct support to al Qaeda — just a few points lower than the 68 percent found before the war, in January 2003. Just 23 percent of this group in the new poll said there was solid evidence of this support; 38 percent say it was their suspicion only.

The June 25-28 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found strong support for another assertion that has also been running into trouble lately. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 54 percent agreed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, compared to 37 percent who said it was not true.

Preventing 9/11. One-third of those surveyed June 21-23 by Gallup, CNN and USA Today thought there was enough information available so that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 could have been prevented. That’s up from 25 percent in May 2002.

The Melting Pot. The Associated Press and Ipsos Public Affairs interviewed people in nine nations about immigration. In the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, two-thirds or more thought immigrants to their countries mostly took jobs their country’s citizens didn’t want. In Mexico, respondents were divided: 40 percent there said immigrants took jobs from citizens, and 46 percent said they took jobs their fellow citizens wouldn’t take.

Measured by the strength of its support for cultural diversity, the United States stood out. In the United States, 71 percent disagreed with the statement that “it is better for a country if almost everyone shares the same customs and traditions.” In Canada, 58 percent disagreed, as did 56 percent in Japan, 52 percent in Italy, and 49 percent in the United Kingdom. In Mexico, France and Spain majorities agreed with the statement, and people in Germany were evenly divided. Majorities in all countries agreed that it is better for a country to have a variety of people with different religions.

The American Dream Is Still Alive. RoperReports/NOP World reports that one-third of respondents believe that the American Dream is very much alive, and 47 percent say it is “somewhat alive.” Just 15 percent of those surveyed said that it is “not really alive.” A majority — 56 percent — say it will be harder to attain the dream in the next generation. But that’s down from the early 1990s, when that response drew 72 percent agreement.

In the February survey, 10 percent said they have already achieved the dream, and 55 percent believe they are halfway there.

In May, Zogby International surveyed Hispanics for the National Council of La Raza. In that poll, 90 percent agreed that “if you work hard, you will succeed in America.”

Call Me … In its May poll for the National Council of La Raza, Zogby International asked Hispanics what they preferred to be called. Twenty-six percent said Hispanic, 12 percent Latino, and 59 percent had no preference.

In a Gallup poll from 2001, 27 percent of African-Americans surveyed preferred the term African-American, 20 percent black, and 41 percent said it didn’t matter.

Compulsory Voting: No Way. ABC News recently updated a question asked by Gallup in 1965. People were told: “In a few countries every eligible citizen is required by law to vote in national elections. Those who don’t have a good excuse for not voting are subject to a small fine.” In three questions asked in 1965, about a quarter said it would be a good law to require voting. In the June 2004 ABC News question, 21 percent said such a law would be a good law.

Who Controls Congress? In its April-May media consumption survey, the Pew Research Center threw in a few “knowledge” questions. Fifty-six percent knew the Republicans had a majority in the House. Eight percent thought the Democrats did, and 36 percent didn’t know.

Trial Lawyers an Albatross for John Edwards? There isn’t much fresh polling, but in September 2000, 53 percent told NBC News/Wall Street Journal interviewers that trial lawyers were too powerful and had too much influence on government and politics, while 33 percent said this was not the case.

By comparison, the poll found that 74 percent said oil companies had too much influence, 69 percent felt that way about drug companies, 60 percent about HMOs, 52 percent about the entertainment industry, 47 percent the AFL-CIO, 35 percent computer companies, 31 percent religious organizations, and 30 percent teachers and public employee unions.

Karlyn Bowman is a resident fellow specializing in public opinion and polls at the American Enterprise Institute.