Poll: Americans don't favor impeachment hearings
By Keating Holland/CNN
WASHINGTON (September 25) -- Most Americans want their representative in Congress to vote against launching formal impeachment hearings when the Lewinsky controversy comes before the full House next month, according to a new CNN/TIME Poll.
A majority of people do not want Clinton removed from office, and they also oppose Congress releasing additional documents that Independent Counsel Ken Starr turned over when he submitted his report to lawmakers earlier this month.
The new CNN/TIME Poll also found a majority of people surveyed oppose releasing the videotape of Clinton's testimony in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Congress earlier this week released Clinton's videotaped grand jury testimony in the Lewinsky affair.
How have Americans reacted to what Congress has done so far in the Lewinsky probe? In general, they do not like it. A majority disapprove of how the House Judiciary Committee has handled the investigation into Clinton. The number who approve of how Congress is handling its job has dropped nine points in a week, while Clinton's job approval rating has remained essentially unchanged during the same period.
Only 41 percent have a favorable view of Republicans in Congress, compared to a majority who have a favorable view of Democrats. One reason is that the public thinks that the GOP has been too partisan in handling the controversy.
It appears there has been a backlash against congressional Republicans, but whether that will hurt GOP candidates for Congress in November depends on who turns out to vote.
The latest poll numbers are based on interviews with 1,019 adult Americans conducted September 23-24, and the survey has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points.
Here are the questions and the results:
As you may know, Congress may vote soon on whether or not to begin formal hearings on whether to impeach Bill Clinton. Would you want your member of Congress to vote for or against beginning these hearings?
Yes 41% No 53
As you may know, Independent Counsel Ken Starr turned over documents from his investigation to Congress. Do you think that the House of Representatives should or should not release more documents now from this investigation?
Yes 35% No 61
In general, do you approve or disapprove of how the House Judiciary Committee is handling the inquiry into whether or not to impeach Bill Clinton?
Approve 37% Disapprove 51
In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job that the U.S. Congress is doing?
Now Sept. 16-17 Approve 54% 63% Disapprove 36 27
In general, do you approve or disapprove of the way President Clinton is handling his job as president?
Now Sept. 16-17 Approve 61% 63% Disapprove 35 34
Next, I'm going to read you the names of some political leaders in the news today. Please tell me whether you have generally favorable or generally unfavorable impressions of each, or whether you are not familiar enough to say one way or another.
Favorable Unfavorable Democrats in Congress 52% 27% Republicans in Congress 41 41 Rep. Henry Hyde Favorable 25% Unfavorable 23 Unfamiliar 52
Do you think the Republicans in Congress are being too partisan in their handling of the investigation of Bill Clinton?
Do you think the Democrats in Congress are being too partisan in their handling of the investigation of Bill Clinton?
Yes No Republicans 60% 31% Democrats 46 42
Thinking about Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against President Clinton... As you may know, Congress is considering releasing the videotape of President Clinton testifying in that case. In your opinion, should Congress release this video tape, or shouldn't it do that?
Yes 27% No 69
Regarding Paula Jones, the public now finds her story more credible than in March. Six months ago, the public was split 45-40 percent over whether to believe her charge that Clinton made an unwanted sexual advance toward her. Now a solid 58 percent majority believe that Clinton did so. The number who believe that Clinton made an unwanted sexual advance toward former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey has remained essentially unchanged.
Paula Jones has claimed that Bill Clinton made an unwanted sexual advance toward her while he was governor of Arkansas. Clinton has denied this charge. Which do you tend to believe more -- that Clinton made an unwanted sexual advance toward Paula Jones, or that he did not make an unwanted sexual advance toward her?
As you may know, a former White House volunteer named Kathleen Willey has claimed that Bill Clinton made an unwanted sexual advance toward her in the White House. Clinton has denied this charge. Which do you tend to believe more -- that Clinton made an unwanted sexual advance toward Kathleen Willey, or that he did not make an unwanted sexual advance toward her?
Believe That Clinton Made Unwanted Sexual Advance Toward... Now March Paula Jones 58% 45% Kathleen Willey 44 41
If the public had to choose between seeing Clinton impeached and removed from office, censured but not removed from office, a Clinton resignation, or no action taken against Clinton, a third would choose no action and only one in eight would prefer impeachment and removal from office. But nearly half believe that censure is the likeliest outcome of the current investigation.
Fifty-seven percent would support an agreement to censure Clinton if it meant he would remain in office. However, support drops when any additional sanctions are added. Only 46 percent would support an agreement to censure him but leave him in office if he also had to appear before Congress and be personally reprimanded for his actions. Just 44 percent would support a censure motion if Clinton also had to admit that he lied under oath. And just 36 percent would support a censure motion that also included a substantial fine. It appears that the public supports censure as the lightest possible penalty and might oppose any additional punishments on top of that.
Which of the following possible outcomes of the investigation of Bill Clinton would you most like to see happen?
No action 34% Censure 29 Resignation 23 Impeachment 12
And which of the following possible outcomes of the investigation of Bill Clinton do you think is most likely to happen?
Censure 46% No action 21 Impeachment 14 Resignation 10
Would you favor or oppose Congress and Bill Clinton reaching an agreement in which Congress would censure Clinton but leave in him in office if there were other conditions?
Favor Censure If Clinton Also Faced... No other punishment 57% Personal reprimand 46 Admission of perjury 44 Substantial fine 36
If the House Judiciary Committee decides to hold public hearings on whether to impeach Bill Clinton, do you think Bill Clinton should be required to testify, or don't you think so?
If the House Judiciary Committee decides to hold public hearings on whether to impeach Bill Clinton, do you think Monica Lewinsky should be required to testify, or don't you think so?
Yes No Bill Clinton 59% 36% Monica Lewinsky 54 40
In general, do you approve or disapprove of how the media is handling its reporting of the investigation into whether or not to impeach Bill Clinton?
Approve 25% Disapprove 71
Friday, September 25, 1998
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