- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Three out of four Americans are happier to have President Bush in charge of the war against terrorism than Al Gore, according to a straightforward question posed in a new poll.

Seventy-six percent of respondents said they prefer having Mr. Bush lead the war, while 15 percent said they would have preferred a hypothetical "President Gore."

Other polls have shown a majority of Americans would vote for Mr. Bush over Mr. Gore in 2004 and feel the president handled the terrorist attacks better than Mr. Gore would have done. But no other poll has so directly asked about the war on terrorism.

"In New York and nationally, among liberals, boys, girls, old, young, rich, poor, overly educated and undereducated everybody the sensation is 'Hey, we picked the right guy,'" said Michael McKenna, who headed the poll for District-based Andres McKenna Research.

The survey, taken Nov. 25-27, had 500 respondents nationwide in addition to a 250-person sample in New York City. The margin of error nationwide is plus or minus 4.4 percent, and the margin of error for the New York results is 6.2 percent.

The poll also found that Americans prefer the name CNN has given to its war coverage, "America Strikes Back," over the other networks. With 32 percent, CNN topped Fox's "War on Terror," which got 28 percent support, CBS's "America Fights Back," which got 15 percent, and NBC's "Attack on America," which polled 13 percent. ABC wasn't included in the survey.

Why "America Strikes Back" outpolled "America Fights Back" 2-to-1 is anyone's guess, Mr. McKenna said. One possibility, though, is that "there is an element in [America Strikes Back] that has a touch of vengeance to it. America Fights Back has a defensive ring."

In the other "media" question, half of respondents said the media were excessive in covering anthrax and anxieties about terrorism, while 30 percent said coverage was justified. Thirteen percent said the coverage was so overdone it deprived the public of other important medical information.

Asked which they worried about more, receiving anthrax in the mail or receiving an IRS audit notice, half of Americans feared the IRS more, while 32 percent said anthrax. The rest were undecided. In New York, though, the sentiment was reversed 48 percent worried about anthrax while only 36 percent worried about an IRS notice.

Respondents also overwhelmingly said capturing Osama bin Laden should not be the end of the operation.

Only 10 percent said that should be the end of things, while 5 percent said they think America should begin planning an attack on Iraq and other nations that aid terrorists, and 38 percent said the United States should go after terrorist networks. Thirty percent wanted both to target terrorist networks and plan an attack on nations that aid terrorists.

Americans are split 47 percent to 46 percent between those who are positive and negative about "the current situation," while New Yorkers are decidedly negative, 34 to 59.

Some clients paid for some of the questions to be asked, Mr. McKenna said. He hopes the poll will become a monthly survey of the state of the country.

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