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Inside Politics

Poll: Americans upbeat about next four years

Bush rates higher on security, lower on domestic issues

Will President Bush be a more effective or less effective leader in his second term?
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George W. Bush

(CNN) -- A majority of Americans see improving military security as President Bush's only major first term achievement, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday.

But the poll showed that while confidence in Bush's ability to use military force wisely and handle an international crisis is still strong, it has slipped since his first inauguration.

Nevertheless, most of those polled see Bush as an honest, trustworthy and strong leader, believe he has a clear plan for the economy and think he will improve education and moral values in his second term.

The survey was conducted Friday through Sunday in phone calls to 1,007 adult Americans; it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said Bush's policies will move the country in the right direction.

Fifty-two percent said he will be an outstanding or above average president in his second term. He will be inaugurated Thursday. (Full story)

When asked to rate the last four years or forecast what will happen in the next four, respondents gave Bush high marks on terrorism and security, mixed reviews on the economy and taxes, and low marks on domestic issues like Social Security, health care and the deficit.

Large majorities think Bush did not improve health care, Medicare, Social Security or the environment in his first term.

Opinions were more evenly divided on whether he has improved education, moral values or the economy.

Only 46 percent said that Bush cut their taxes -- the signature domestic achievement of his first term.

Americans were more upbeat about the next four years.

Seventy-three percent of respondents said Bush would improve security, 68 percent said he will keep the country safe from terrorism and 62 percent said he will keep the United States prosperous.

In his next four years, 58 percent said Bush would improve education and 57 percent say he will improve moral values.

Fifty-three percent said they believe the country will be better off in four years than it is now, 7 points higher than in a January 2001 poll. Those who believe the country will be worse off remained at 42 percent.

But only four in 10 said Bush would strengthen Social Security, and only about a quarter said he would reduce the federal deficit.

Personal views of Bush are down since the start of his first term, but 56 percent of those poll see him as a strong leader who is honest and trustworthy.

Fifty-six percent say they have confidence he will use military force wisely -- but this is down 22 points since his first inauguration.

There was also been a decline in the number of Americans who have confidence in his ability to handle an international crisis -- from 71 percent to 64 percent.

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