THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 20, 2003
Washington - Americans think the war in Iraq was the right decision, by a 2-1 ratio, and are more inclined to approve of the job done by President George W. Bush in foreign policy and terrorism following the capture of Saddam Hussein, an Associated Press poll found.
They remain wary, however, of the continuing deadly conflict in Iraq.
Hussein's capture appears to have given Bush's re-election prospects a boost: The poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs found that nearly half of respondents, 45 percent, said they would definitely support Bush's re-election, while 31 percent said they would definitely vote against him.
A month ago, people were evenly divided on that question, at 37 percent definitely for and 37 percent definitely against.
Two-thirds in the poll said they were confident the United States would capture or kill Osama bin Laden, who is believed to have orchestrated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That's up from about half who felt that way in a poll in September.
"I'm confident we'll capture Osama bin Laden," said Jill Chiccino, a surgical technician from Wilmington, Del. "I still don't feel that will solve terrorism, but it may help."
More than six in 10 registered voters, 63 percent, said they approved of Bush's handling of foreign policy and terrorism, up from 54 percent who felt that way in early December in an AP-Ipsos poll.
Bush's overall job approval among voters was 59 percent, up from 53 percent in early December but still far below his mid-70s war ratings from earlier this year.
Seven in 10 said they believed the Iraq war was an important part of the campaign against terrorism rather than a distraction, as some critics have charged. And by more than a 2-1 ratio, people said the war was the right decision and not a mistake.
The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,001 adults was taken Monday through Wednesday and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, slightly larger for subgroups such as registered voters.
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