I was most interested in how blood-thirsty my fellow Americans are. I admit I am somewhat bloodthirsty, even as I realize a military solution will probably "work" only if the US kills everyone else in the world. I at least want to know who actually did it. I still don't buy that it is Osama bin Laden (but that's another story).
You've probably all heard the figure already saying that 90% or more of Americans are in favor of military strikes. Gallup has that at http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010914b.asp along with other tidbits. Some figures:
- 71% of Americans want to wait until we know who actually did it.
- 21% are willing to strike "against all known terrorist organizations even if it was unclear who orchestrated the attacks."
- Only 4% do not support military strikes.
- Two press polls mentioned include determining Americans' willingness for war casualties, etc. From the Gallup article:
The ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 69% of Americans support going to war even if it means "getting into a long war with large numbers of U.S. troops killed or injured." The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 83% support "even if it means risking further retaliation and the threat of war."
I also wondered about the President's approval rating. We all realize that President Bush is considered by many to be a lackluster president. I know that not too long ago Bush's approval rating was sitting around 50% or lower. Gallup has some poll data on that at http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010914d.asp.
- Over many polls, Bush's overall approval rating has jumped 20 points to a value between 72% and 86% according to different polls.
- Bush's approval rating for his handling of the attacks is at 91% in one ABC News/Washington Post poll.
- The Gallup release notes that the largest rally effect was for George Bush Sr's announcement at the start of the Persian Gulf War, also 20 points.
- Even stranger to me, the congress-critters' approval ratings are up. Really up. At their highest level ever measured -- 75% in a CNN/Time Poll (I assume the more scientific variety). Previously Congress' approval rating was a dismal 42%.
The explanation that comes to mind is simply these are war numbers -- the president and congress (government in general) are always approved of more during a war. In other words (and the Gallup articles discuss this) we Americans believe we are at war. War presidents are often forgiven for many things (Wilson kept us out of war, but then he got us into it; Bush Sr. was in the Iran-Contra affair and presided over a recession). Bush Jr. hasn't been the best president but now he is a war president -- and so we approve.
I know poll numbers are always suspect and don't say everything. But it looks like America wants a war. The media, Congress and the President aren't the only ones (well, unless we citizens are being led by the nose). But I'm in that 70% even though the other half of me says that's silly, primitive, uncivilized and will probably do no good. Look for me next year at an anti-war rally or maybe in the army. One half of my brain might have beaten the other senseless.