Americans Opposed Impeachment

In a week of extraordinary events, Americans demonstrated the stability of opinion they have shown for months in evaluating the performance of President Bill Clinton and in stating their preference for the future. There was little change through the week in the percentages who approve of the way Clinton is handling his job and who oppose a House vote to impeach him.

Many continue to steadfastly believe that the Republicans' motivation for impeachment is partisan. Negative changes in people's views of the Republican Party in recent weeks may indicate possible future dangers for the Republican majority.

When asked how they want their representative to vote regarding impeachment 38% said they wanted their representative to vote in favor of impeachment while 58% wanted their representative to vote against it.


WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER HAPPEN?
HOUSE VOTE TO IMPEACH PRESIDENT 38%HOUSE VOTE NOT TO IMPEACH PRESIDENT 58%


On Impeachment: Given a choice of three options, 53% thought the House would vote to impeach the President, 35% said censure or a compromise would be agreed upon, and 6% believed that the House would drop the matter:


WHICH DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN NOW?
HOUSE WILL VOTE TO IMPEACH PRESIDENT 53%COMPROMISE (CENSURE OR FINE) 35%DROP THE MATTER6%

Looking to the future: Given what they knew as of Friday night, most Americans reject resignation. 36% say it would be better for the country if Bill Clinton resigned now; 59% think he should finish his term:

GIVEN WHAT YOU KNOW RIGHT NOW, IT WOULD BE BETTER FOR COUNTRY...
IF CLINTON RESIGNED FROM OFFICE 36%IF CLINTON FINISHES HIS TERM 59%

But if the President is impeached, opinion on this critical question could change. When asked what should happen then, a majority now favors resignation, but a percentage says the President should remained in office. In that circumstance, 49% say it would be better for the country if Clinton resigned; 44% say it would not:

IF IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES SENT TO THE SENATE IT WOULD BE...
BETTER FOR COUNTRY IF PRESIDENT RESIGNED 49%NOT BETTER FOR THE COUNTRY 44%


Public opinon of Congress:
A majority of Americans has consistently said they disapprove of the way the House Judiciary Committee handled the impeachment inquiry. When asked about the way Congress is handling the job the margin was tighter.

Congress currently has a slightly negative job approval rating: 45% approve of the way it's handling its job; 46% disapprove:

APPROE OF THE WAY CONGRESS IS HANDLING THE JOB?
APPROVE 45%DISAPPROVE 46%


Congress and Morals:
Evaluations of Bill ClintonÂ's moral values have dropped since January. For the last four months, only a third of the public have said he shares the moral values most Americans try to live by. In the last weeks, revelations about the private lives of members of Congress may have had an impact on the way the public views Congress as well.

When asked whether most members of Congress share the moral values most Americans try to live by, the public divides evenly. 41% think they do; 43% say most members of Congress do not. In September, 58% of the public thought most members of Congress shared their moral values.


DO YOU THINK MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SHARE THE MORAL VALUES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?
YES 41%NO 43%


Iraq
Approval of President Clinton remains high with 64% approving of the way he is handling his job as president.

And, there is widespread support for U.S. military actions in Iraq. In fact, by 53% to 42%, Americans say they would have postponed the impeachment debate until after the military action against Iraq ended.

Still, when asked about the ability of the U.S. to effectively continue to conduct military operations if an impeachment vote was held while military action was underway, a majority 57% said an impeachment vote would not interfere with U.S. ability to conduct military affairs, 37% thought U.S. action would be effected.



WILL AN IMPEACHMENT VOTE AT THIS TIME INTERFERE WITH U.S. ABILITY TO CONDUCT MILITARY ACTION
YES 37%NO 57%





This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 548 adults interviewed by telephone on December 18, 1998. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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