In the polls


Geraldine Sealey
April 10, 2004 12:09AM (UTC)

A CBS News poll says Americans have a generally favorable view of Condoleezza Rice, even after her testimony before the 9/11 commission. But that favorable opinion isn't helping the administration's credibility. "One opinion left unchanged by Dr. Rice's testimony is the continuing belief that the Administration is not telling the entire truth about what it knew before Sept. 11. Three out of four Americans, about the same as a week ago, say the Administration is hiding something, with one in ten going so far as to say it is lying," CBS' analysis says.

"Despite the positive evaluations of Dr. Rice, there is only limited evidence in the poll that her testimony changed minds. Americans are more likely now to say that the Bush administration did all it could to prevent the 9/11 attacks than they were one week ago, but 60 percent of Americans still say they could have done more. Forty-nine percent of respondents believed the government had information that could have prevented the terror attacks. Most of those say that if attention had been paid to that information, the attacks could have been prevented. As for the Bush Administrations attention level, nearly seven in ten Americans still say it wasnt paying enough attention to terrorism before 9/11."

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The CBS pollsters also asked Americans about their views on the war in Iraq. Bad news for the White House here. "Just over a third now say the result of the war in Iraq is worth the costs, dropping from 39 percent among these same respondents one week ago. 57 percent, the largest number ever in CBS News Polls, say it is not. In addition, fewer also think the U.S. made the right decision to use military force against Iraq last year -- down to 50 percent from 55 percent among these same respondents last week, also the lowest percentage in CBS News polls since the end of the war. Forty-six percent now say the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq."

"There has been an enormous change in the last few months in the U.S. publics evaluations of how things are going in Iraq -- last December, two-thirds said things were going well for the U.S. in its efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq. That figure is now only 39 percent. Nearly six in ten say things are going badly for the U.S., with 26 percent describing things as going VERY badly. As in the previous questions, these results are the worst seen in this poll since the end of the war."

CNN and Time magazine also polled Americans Thursday night to get reactions to Rice's testimony. The good news for the White House is that 40 percent said the administration, based on the information it had, could have done more to stop the terrorist attacks, which is actually down from 54 percent who said that in a March 26-28 poll. The bad news is that 60 percent say the administration had no al Qaeda strategy before Sept. 11, 2001.

$40 million dollars in campaign ads later, President Bush is still about tied with John Kerry in the latest AP-Ipsos poll. Bush has 45 percent, Kerry 44 percent and Nader 6 percent.

What's most interesting about this poll comes in the details about the war in Iraq. Half of those polled said the war has increased the threat of terrorism around the world. "The number of people who thought the Iraq situation increased the terrorism threat grew slightly from Monday through Wednesday at a time that television news was showing the sharply increasing violence in Iraq. In a mid-February AP poll, Americans were evenly divided on the effects of military action in Iraq, with 38 percent saying it had increased the terror threat and the same number saying the threat had decreased," the AP says.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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