Poll: Most people want early end to impeachment trial
By Keating Holland/CNN
January 18, 1999
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics) -- Once President Bill Clinton's defense team makes its presentation and senators have a chance to question both sides, the bipartisan agreement struck two weeks ago calls for the Senate to decide whether to end the trial or continue the proceedings by hearing testimony from witnesses.
When that point is reached, 58 percent of the public wants the Senate to end the trial immediately, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll.
That compares with 39 percent of the people surveyed who wanted the Senate to hear testimony from witnesses before taking a final vote on Clinton's fate.
One reason a majority of people want the trial over with as quickly as possible: 57 percent say the impeachment trial is causing serious harm to the country. Another reason is that more than six in 10 Americans continue to oppose Clinton's removal from office. Of survey respondents, 36 percent wanted their U.S. senators to vote to convict Clinton, while 61 percent wanted their senators to vote against his removal from office. That figure is down from 68 percent in December.
The survey is based on interviews with 1,009 adult Americans and has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points, except where otherwise noted below. It was conducted January 15-17, as the House prosecutors were making their case against Clinton to the Senate.
Here are the questions and results:
After the Senate finishes hearing summations from both sides of the case in the impeachment trial -- that is, both the House's prosecution and Clinton's defense -- and the Senate has had an opportunity to question both sides, what do you think the Senate should do next, vote to end the trial immediately, or vote to hear testimony from witnesses before taking a final vote?
End trial immediately 58% Call witnesses 39%
In your view, is the Senate impeachment trial causing serious harm to the country, or is it not causing serious harm?
Yes, causing serious harm 57% No, not causing serious harm 41%
What do you want your senators to do -- vote in favor of convicting Clinton and removing him from office, or vote against convicting Clinton so he will remain in office?
Vote for conviction 36% Vote against conviction 61%
Nine in 10 Americans say that television is an important source of news for them about the impeachment trial -- higher than newspapers (73 percent), radio (57 percent) or the Internet (18 percent). But on Tuesday, the Senate trial will take a back seat to the president's State of the Union speech. Two-thirds of the country say they plan to watch Clinton's speech live on TV on Tuesday night, while just 48 percent say they plan to watch any portion of the Senate trial live on TV at any time during the proceedings.
As you know, the Senate impeachment trial now under way is being televised live. Do you think you will watch any of the trial live on TV, or not?
Now thinking ahead, President Clinton will present his State of the Union address in a speech to Congress this coming Tuesday evening, January 19. Do you think you will watch that speech live on TV, or not?
Do you plan to watch... Yes No State of Union speech 67% 31% Senate trial 48 52
Next we'd now like to know about the ways in which you, personally, are following, or getting your information about, the Senate impeachment trial. Please say whether each of the following is or is not an important source of news for you about the trial ...
Important source of news on Senate trial? Yes No Television 90% 10% Newspapers 73 27 Radio 57 43 Internet 18 81
Most Americans believe Clinton has been the victim of an unfair investigation, while 44 percent say he got what he deserved. By contrast, most Americans believe that Republican members of Congress whose extramarital affairs have been made public got what they deserved; 42 percent say those Republicans have been victims of an unfair investigation.
But despite differences on those questions, the public clearly has no stomach for sexual revelations regardless of whether Republicans or Clinton are the targets. Sixty-four percent say the allegations about Clinton's sex life should never have been revealed, and 60 percent say the same about Republicans whose adulterous affairs have been made public.
As you may know, it was a year ago that Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky was publicly revealed. All things considered, do you think Bill Clinton was the victim of an unfair investigation into his private life, or do you think Bill Clinton got what he deserved?
Victim of unfair investigation 53% Got what he deserved 44% Sampling error: +/-5% pts
As you may know, in recent months it has been publicly revealed that several prominent Republican members of Congress had extramarital affairs in their past. All things considered, do you think these Republicans are victims of unfair investigations into their private lives, or do you think these Republicans got what they deserved?
Victims of unfair investigation 42% Got what they deserved 52% Sampling error: +/-5% pts
Regardless of whether you think Bill Clinton got what he deserved, do you think that the information about his affair with Monica Lewinsky should or should not have been publicly revealed?
Regardless of whether you think these Republican members got what they deserved, do you think that the information about their affairs should or should not have been publicly revealed?
Should information about affairs have been made public?
Yes No about Clinton 35% 64% about Republicans 38% 60% Sampling error: +/-5% pts
Monday January 18, 1999
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