TIME/CNN Poll: Americans Give Bush a Big Thumbs-Up

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A little more than two weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Americans are not just rallying around the flag — they’re rallying around their president. According to a new TIME/CNN poll, 84 percent approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, up from 78 percent two days after the attacks — and in a different sphere entirely from the mid-50s plateau he occupied throughout the spring and summer.

Support is strong for both the president's policies and the president himself. Asked about the strength of Bush’s response thus far, 74 percent felt it was "just about right," while only 17 percent said "not strong enough." Two-thirds of respondents thought the administration had a "clear and well thought out policy" to deal with terrorism, and when asked "how long are you willing to wait for the U.S. government to take military action in Afghanistan," a plurality of 27 percent were willing to wait indefinitely. Fully 16 percent volunteered a response not offered by the pollsters: "As long as President Bush decides is right."

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Americans do seem resigned to taking more hits. A total of 81 percent thought another act of terrorism on U.S. soil in the next 12 months was "very likely" or "somewhat likely"; 63 percent thought a U.S. attack on Afghanistan would make that even more likely. Asked to choose the method that the terrorists might use, 76 percent thought a car or truck bomb was likely.

And yet there may be a kind of reassuring not-in-my-backyard quality to this fear — 62 percent of respondents believed their town or city would not be a target, and the percentage who have "considered" purchasing disaster-related items — a gas mask, a gun, an anthrax or smallpox vaccine — did not top the 31 percent who had considered stocking up on bottled water. Sixty percent said life in their community had returned to normal since the attacks, yet 58 percent said the country was in deep and serious trouble — the highest percentage since 1983.

There was some good news for the economy — 58 percent feel economic conditions are "fairly good," and a plurality of 43 percent thought things would get even better in the next 12 months. A full 88 percent said they had not delayed or considered delaying any significant purchases in the wake of the attacks; only 15 percent said they had canceled travel plans, and only 10 percent said they had dumped stocks.

Americans also seem willing and ready to shed blood abroad — nearly two-thirds of respondents favored the use of U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan. More than half, 56 percent, envisioned a long war with many casualties but with an eventual U.S. victory. On the homefront, Americans strong favor increased vigilance. A full 68 percent favor increased governmental wire-tapping authority, 55 percent favor email monitoring. Sixty-one percent would allow the federal government to jail any non-citizen terrorist suspect without a hearing; 59 percent favor holding suspects without bail for unlimited amounts of time. And 31 percent would allow the internment in camps of Arabs who are U.S. citizens.