American Attitudes Hold Steady in Face of Foreign Crisis

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

08/18/2006 - The public is paying a great deal of attention to major overseas events - the reported terrorist plot against U.S. trans-Atlantic jet liners, the war in Lebanon, as well as the ongoing violence in Iraq. However, there is little indication that these dramatic stories have materially changed public attitudes. Worries about another terrorist attack have not surged. The public continues to express high levels of support for Israel, even as a sizable minority views Israel as mostly responsible for the civilian casualties arising from the fighting. And while more Americans say the U.S. is losing ground in preventing a civil war in Iraq, basic attitudes about the conflict are largely unchanged, according to Pew Research Center for the People and the Press findings.

The strong focus on news from abroad is having little impact on the public's political opinions. President Bush's job approval rating stands at 37%, virtually unchanged from July. His personal image continues to be far less positive than it was about a year ago ­ about half the public says he is not a strong leader, not trustworthy, and unable to get things done. Moreover, the renewed emphasis on terrorism has done little to boost the president's standing on that issue. The survey, which was largely conducted after the Aug. 10 revelations of the terror plot against airliners, shows that 50% approve of the president's handling of terrorist threats, little changed from June (47%).

The severity of the president's image problem is reflected in the fact that while many Americans (49%) feel the level of U.S. involvement in resolving the Lebanon crisis has been appropriate, far fewer (36%) say they approve of Bush's handling of the issue.

Read full report American Attitudes Hold Steady in Face of Foreign Crisis on Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.

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