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Poll: Stop Probing Clinton-Lewinsky Allegations

Despite firestorm, Clinton enjoys an all-time high approval rating

By Keating Holland/CNN

poll

WASHINGTON (Jan. 30) -- Although half the country continues to believe that President Bill Clinton had an extramarital affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, most Americans do not want to see any further investigation into these matters, according to the latest CNN/TIME poll.

Only 40 percent of people surveyed want the current investigation to continue. One reason is that 53 percent of the public says that allegations about Lewinsky are interfering with Clinton's duties as president. A full 68 percent approve of how he is handling his job, a personal best that matches the highest approval rating Ronald Reagan ever posted.

Another reason why Americans oppose further investigation is that most feel that even if Clinton had an affair and tried to cover it up, that would not be as bad as what Richard Nixon did during Watergate.

Meanwhile, six out of ten Americans believe that independent counsel Ken Starr has gone too far in investigating Clinton's sexual behavior, and the public is split over whether Starr has acted responsibly.

The survey of 1,016 adult Americans was conducted Jan. 28-29, and has a margin of sampling error of +/-3 percentage points.

Here are the numbers:

Investigation Into Lewinsky Allegations Should...
Continue
Not continue

40%
57%
Investigation Is Interfering With Clinton's Duties
Agree
Disagree

53%
44%
If Clinton Had Affair Tried To Cover It Up
Worse than Watergate
Not as bad as Watergate
About the same

6%
54%
34%
Did Clinton Have Affair With Monica Lewinsky?
Yes
No

54%
38%
Starr Is Going Too Far In Investigating Clinton
Now
Jan. 22

60%
51%
Has Starr Acted Responsibly?
Yes
No

43%
43%

Clinton's highest approval rating

Why is Clinton's approval rating at an all-time high? Americans are more positive about the state of the nation than they have been at any time since 1974.

Seventy-nine percent say that things are going very well or fairly well in the country, a higher level of satisfaction than at the end of the Persian Gulf War, during the good economic times of the Reagan Administration, or any other time in the last quarter-century.

As a result, Clinton's approval rating has grown by a remarkable 16 points in the past week, and his favorable rating has rebounded to precisely where it was before the allegations concerning Lewinksy first surfaced. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's favorable rating has risen slightly since last week, but nearly half the country has an unfavorable view of Lewinsky.

Still, Clinton's popularity may be temporary, pending further developments. If evidence shows that Clinton lied under oath about his affair or tried to get Lewinsky to do so, most Americans think that he should resign from office.

How Are Things Going In The Country Today?
Well
Badly

79%
20%
Clinton Favorable Rating
Now
Jan. 22
Jan. 14-15

60%
50%
60%
Favorable Ratings

Bill Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Monica Lewinsky

Favorable
60%
59%
7%
Unfavorable
36%
32%
48%
Should Clinton Resign If Evidence Shows That He...

Had an affair
Lied under oath
Obstructed justice

Yes
34%
60%
66%
No
61%
35%
29%

State of the Union issues

As for the issues Clinton raised in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, only 23 percent of the public says that any potential federal budget surplus should be completely set aside for strengthening Social Security, but an additional 39 percent say that most of that money should be set aside for that purpose.

Only 30 percent say any surplus should be used to lower taxes.

Six out of ten Americans would support using U.S. forces in a U.N.-sponsored military strike against Iraq if Saddam Hussein does not agree to allow U.N. teams to inspect potential weapons sites. But only 38 percent would support a unilateral U.S. strike.

Only one in five Americans believe that if Clinton orders a military strike against Iraq, he would be doing so to divert attention from the Lewinsky allegations.

How Should Surplus Be Spent?
All for Social Security
Most for Social Security
Most for tax cuts
All for tax cuts

23%
39%
18%
12%
U.S. Military Strike on Iraq If Other Countries Participate
Favor
Oppose

60%
33%
U.S. Military Strike On Iraq Without Other Countries
Favor
Oppose

38%
54%
In Other News

Friday Jan. 30, 1998

Tripp Says She Heard Lewinsky On Phone With Clinton
Indictment Looms For Buddhist Temple
Pandora's Web?
Judge: Secret Service Agents Do Not Have To Testify
Text of Linda Tripp's Statement
Another Odd Episode From Lewinsky's Love Life
Republicans Speak Out On Clinton Controversy
Second 'Near-Miss' Involving Air Force One

Poll:
Stop Probing Clinton-Lewinsky Allegations