BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Spanish Portuguese Caribbean
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Americas  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 10:03 GMT
US public wary of war

President George W Bush may be facing a significant decline in support at home.

The numbers, in recent opinion polls, do not represent a crisis, but they are not very encouraging either.

Support for the president, his handling of the economy and his position on Iraq, have all gone down in a number of different polls.

The United Nations
More Americans believe that the US needs international support
In one recent poll, in the Washington Post newspaper, support for confronting Saddam Hussein was down from 62% of the population to 57% over the last month.

In another, in the newspaper USA Today, only 52% of the population backed invading Iraq, compared with 56% one month ago, and 74% in November.

As in previous polls, most people are opposed to going to war without authorisation from the United Nations.

And a substantial majority of Americans believe the inspectors should be given more time to do their work.

Overall ratings fall

The growing scepticism about Iraq is linked to a more general decline in the president's ratings.

The New York Times opinion poll has President Bush's overall approval rating down to 59% - the lowest since the 11 September attacks.

All the polls show a big drop in support for the president's handling of the economy.

The Washington Post indicates that for the first time in Mr Bush's presidency, a majority no longer trust him on that score.

Rallying round

This White House always claims not to look at poll numbers.

But a senior official was quick to put a positive spin on the figures.

I think the public is supportive of the use of force if, in the judgement of the president, it becomes necessary

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
He pointed out that Mr Bush's overall approval rating was the same as President Reagan or President Clinton had just before they were both re-elected by a landslide.

The White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, has argued that public opinion is likely to turn very quickly if the country moves to war:

"I think when you take a look at where the public is, it's interesting, because, even more so than in 1991, the public understands the threat that Saddam Hussein presents," he said.

"I think the public is supportive of the use of force if, in the judgement of the president, it becomes necessary," he added.

That's probably true.

And opinion is also likely to move in Mr Bush's favour after he delivers the State of the Union message on Tuesday.

With the members of Congress breaking into applause every few seconds, it's a unique platform that almost automatically benefits the president.

Nevertheless, the poll numbers are another argument for President Bush to work harder to convince the American public - and the UN Security Council - of the need to confront Iraq.

And for domestic opponents, the opinion polls are finally giving them heart.

For the first time since the 11 September attacks, President Bush is beginning to look mortal again.

Politics as usual may finally be resuming.


Key stories

Reference

Looming war

RELATED COVERAGE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT

FORUM
See also:

18 Jan 03 | Americas
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes