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Serious Or 'Just Politics'?

Americans are split on Watergate's import

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 16) -- A quarter century after Watergate rocked the government to its foundations, Americans remain deeply divided over the scandal's real import, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey.

A surprising 44 percent of Americans think the Watergate affair was "just politics," while 52 percent say it was a serious matter, according to the survey.

But a more substantial majority of people -- 68 percent -- think that Watergate was serious enough to warrant former President Richard Nixon's resignation, while just 26 percent said it was not.

The poll, conducted May 30 and June 1, interviewed 935 adults and has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points.

Sixty-three percent of those interviewed said they were somewhat or very familiar with the Watergate affair, while 36 percent said they were not familiar with it.

In a separate CNN/TIME Poll, people were asked to compare Watergate and the Whitewater scandal that continues to bedevil President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Forty-nine percent said Nixon's involvement in Watergate was the more serious of the two, while 20 percent said Clinton's involvement with Whitewater was more serious.

The CNN/TIME survey was based on interviews with 1,024 adults on June 4 and 5 and also has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points.

Other questions in the CNN/TIME survey:

In connection to Whitewater,
Clinton is... Nixon in '73
Acting within his rights 46% 42%
Acting above the law 41 47

Nixon's Role in Watergate

Deserved impeachment 44%
No different than other presidents 38

Was Watergate a turning point for trust in government?

Yes   78%
No   15





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