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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Poll: More Americans disapprove of Congress

Public remains opposed to Clinton's impeachment

By Keating Holland/CNN

WASHINGTON (November 16) -- As the House Judiciary Committee prepares to begin impeachment hearings this week, there is bad news for Independent Counsel Ken Starr and Republicans in Congress.

11/16 poll

The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows the number of Americans who disapprove of how the GOP is handling the Monica Lewinsky investigation is at an all-time high and for the first time, the Republicans are now as unpopular as Starr.

Nearly half the country now believes that Starr's report on President Bill Clinton's actions is unfair and distorted, the reverse of how the public felt when the report was first released. Fifty-nine percent disapprove of the decision to hold impeachment hearings in the first place.

Given the choice between continuing the Judiciary Committee's hearings, censuring Clinton or dropping the matter altogether, only a quarter of the public favors continuing the hearings. Thirty-five percent support halting the hearings and censuring Clinton, and 39 percent say the investigation should be dropped with no action taken against Clinton.

Nearly three-quarters say that it is important to them that the House of Representatives completes any impeachment-related activities by the end of the year.

Here are the survey's questions and results:

Just your impression...Do you think the Starr report is a fair and accurate account of Clinton's actions, or do you think it is an unfair and distorted account of Clinton's actions?

Fair and accurate41%47%
Unfair and distorted48%33%

Do you approve or disapprove of the way each of the following -- the Republicans in Congress, Democrats in Congress and Independent Counsel Ken Starr -- is handling the current investigation into the charges against Bill Clinton?

How GOP Is Handling Clinton Investigation
Handling Clinton Investigation

In determining what course of action to take in the Clinton investigation, Congress may face three major choices in the near future. As I read those choices, please tell me which you would prefer they do: 1) Congress should continue to hold hearings on whether to impeach Clinton, 2) Congress should vote to censure Clinton and allow him to serve out his remaining two years in office, and stop holding hearings, 3) Congress should not hold hearings or censure Clinton, and should drop the matter altogether.

Strongly disapprove, continue hearings26%
Censure, stop hearings35%
Drop the matter now39%

As you may know, the House of Representatives will hold hearings into the charges against Bill Clinton, in order to determine whether or not he should be impeached. Do you strongly approve, moderately approve, moderately disapprove or strongly disapprove of the decision to hold these hearings?

Decision To Hold Impeachment Hearings
Strongly approve22%
Moderately approve18%
Moderately disapprove24%
Strongly disapprove35%

Assuming that the House Judiciary Committee holds hearings into the Clinton matter as scheduled, how important is it to you that the House of Representatives completes all action related to this matter by the end of this year?

Not important28%

How have public attitudes changed in the wake of the midterm elections in which the Democrats scored a historic five-seat gain in the House? Americans currently feel the same way they did about impeachment (66 percent oppose) before the election, and Clinton's approval rating, also at 66 percent, has not changed. But approval of the way Congress is handling its job has dropped to 41 percent. As recently as mid-September, a majority approved of Congress.

As you may know, removing a president from office involves two major steps in Congress. First, the House of Representatives must vote on whether there is enough evidence to bring a president to trial before the Senate. This step is called impeachment. Next, the Senate must vote on whether to remove the president from office, or not.

What would you want your member of the House of Representatives to do: 1) Vote in favor of impeaching Clinton and sending the case to the Senate for trial, or 2) vote against impeachment of Clinton.

For impeachment31%
Against impeachment66%

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Clinton is handling his job as president?

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

Job Approval Ratings
How Congress is Handling Its Job

Most Americans believe that the tape recordings Linda Tripp made of conversations with Monica Lewinsky are a private matter and should not be made public no matter how important they might be as evidence. Only a quarter say the public should eventually hear the Tripp tapes. Opposition to releasing the tapes has risen significantly since July.

When the tapes are released, it will be the first time most Americans have ever heard Monica Lewinsky's voice. What do they expect to hear? A majority think that Monica's voice sounds high and childish; 20 percent say she sounds soft and sexy, and 17 percent guess that her voice sounds deep and serious.

Here is a very light question...As you may know, Monica Lewinsky's voice has not been broadcast by the media so far or heard by most Americans. Just your best guess, what do you think her voice probably sounds like --

High and childish53%
Soft and sexy20%
Deep and serious17%

As you may know, a former White House employee named Linda Tripp secretly tape recorded conversations she had with Monica Lewinsky, in which Lewinsky allegedly discussed her relationship with Bill Clinton. Which comes closer to your opinion about those tapes: 1) The tapes might be important evidence in these matters and the public should eventually hear them, 2) The tapes recorded private conversations about a private matter and should not be made public no matter how important they might be as evidence.

Might be important evidence25%
Should not be made public72%


Click here for the full collection of AllPolitics polls.


Monday, November 16, 1998

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