November 05, 2001

Most Americans are confident that the U.S. government has a clear plan for winning the war on terrorism. Most Americans also think the government has explained clearly what it means to win this war. Furthermore the government gets good marks for the accuracy of the information it is providing about the war and about bioterrorism.

Approximately two out of three Americans say that they trust the government to tell the truth about the effectiveness of our bombing in Afghanistan and the real risks of anthrax attacks.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll, a national survey of 1,011 adults interviewed by telephone between November 14-20, 2001 by Harris Interactive.

The key findings are:

* Fully 86% of Americans say they are confident that the U.S. government has a clear plan for winning the war on terrorism. This includes 41% who are very confident and 45% who are somewhat confident. Only 14% say they are not very or not at all confident.

* By 61% to 36%, a substantial majority of adults think the U.S. government has clearly explained what it means to win the war on terrorism.

* Large majorities, from 69% to 85%, believe that the information the government provides about various elements of the war on terrorism is accurate. However, most people believe this information is only "somewhat accurate" as opposed to "very accurate." The largest majorities are those who have confidence in the information provided on the accuracy of our bombing in Afghanistan (85%) and the real risks of bioterrorism and anthrax in the United States (78%).

Somewhat fewer people (69%) believe that the government is providing accurate information on the numbers of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

* Many more people say that they trust the information the government is providing than do not trust it. By 69% to 28%, most Americans trust the accuracy of the information provided about the effectiveness of our bombing in Afghanistan. By a somewhat smaller 63% to 34%, most people believe what the government is telling us about the real risks of anthrax attacks.

As long as the news from Afghanistan and "the homeland" is generally positive and the government and military are seen to be making real progress, it is probable that this high level of confidence and trust will continue. Only if things start to go wrong -- in Afghanistan or in the United States -- would we expect to see a significant decline in those very positive ratings. The numbers are, of course, dramatically different than the results of polls conducted toward the later stages of the Vietnam War when the majority of Americans were deeply distrustful both of our military strategy and of the information that the government was providing.

For charts CLICK above on 'More Images'.

For more information at http://www.harrisinteractive.com

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