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Poll: Enron Fallout Rising

As Americans learn more about the bankruptcy of the Enron Corporation, more of them have doubts about whether Bush administration officials are being truthful about their dealings with the energy company. Americans view Enron as having closer ties to Republicans than Democrats and believe the Bush administration is influenced too much by big business. The problems are widespread: The public thinks the accounting practices that led to the company's collapse are not limited to Enron.

Americans are becoming more skeptical about Bush administration officials' dealings with Enron. Although only 9 percent say members of the administration are lying about their dealings with Enron, almost six in 10 believe they are hiding something. This is an increase from last week, when 44 percent thought members of the Bush administration were hiding something. Only 17 percent say the administration is telling the entire truth. Also, twice as many people think what the Bush administration may be hiding is something the public needs to know than don't.

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Bush administration Statements About Enron

 NowJan. 18
Telling entire truth



 NowJan. 18
Hiding something



 NowJan. 18




Political views matter to opinions: More Republicans believe the administration is being more forthcoming than the Democrats do. Thirty-two percent of Republicans say members of the Bush administration are telling the entire truth when it comes to their dalings with Enron, while only 9 percent of Democrats feel that way. More Democrats than Republicans believe that members of the administration are either lying or hiding something involving Enron.
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Corporate Interests And The Bush Administration

With the publicity surrounding Enron's campaign contributions to George W. Bush and as well as to many members of Congress, it's not surprising that Americans see both branches government as being influenced too much by big business.

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A majority of the public sees the Bush administration as beholden to corporate interests; 61 percent think business has too much influence on his administration, 22 percent think it has the right amount of influence, and 6 percent think it has too little influence.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
Influence Of Business On Bush Administration

Too Much


Too Little


Right Amount



But the president is not alone on this — Congress is viewed as even more beholden to business. 75 percent of Americans think business has too much influence on Congress, and 12 percent think this influence is about right.

Influence Of Business On Congress
Too much 75%
Too little 5%
Right amount 12%

The Enron Corporation has made significant campaign contributions to politicians — Democrats and Republicans alike. But when asked which political party Enron executives had closer ties to, 45 percent of Americans say the Republicans, 10 percent say the Democrats. Another 10 percent say executives had ties to both parties equally.

Enron Execs Had Closer Ties To...
Republicans 45%
Democrats 10%
Both 10%

An indication that the collapse of Enron is of concern to many people is that 7 in 10 Americans think the accounting practices that led to the energy company's bankruptcy is widespread in other large corporations; only 11 percent say these practices are limited to Enron.

Accounting Practices That Led To Enron's Collapse
Isolated instance 11%
Widespread 70%

Americans view the collapse of Enron as a significant issue nationally. Eighty-three percent of Americans say the company's collapse is an important issue to the nation (including 39 percent who say it is of great importance). Less than one in 10 say it is of little importance. Among those who have read a lot about Enron's collapse (40 percent of the public), 57 percent say the issue is of great importance to the country.

How Important Is The Collapse Of Enron To The Nation?
Great importance 39%
Some importance 44%
Very little importance 8%

Even Republicans consider the issue of Enron's collapse an important one. Eight in 10 say the issue is important; however, only 26 percent say it is of great importance, compared to 54 percent of Democrats who feel that way.

The public is becoming more interested in the Enron cas and consider it an important issue to the country. Now, 74 percent say they have heard or read about Enron's collapse and only 25 percent say they haven't heard much about it. Last week, a third said they hadn't heard much about the collapse of the seventh largest company in the U.S.

A majority of Americans think many public officials make or change policy decisions based on campaign contributions (according to a CBS News Poll conducted last week), but voters now say it would not affect their vote one way or another if their Congressman received campaign contributions from the Enron Corp. Sixty percent of registered voters say it would make no difference to them whether their Congressman received money from Enron. Twenty-nine percent say it would make them less likely to vote their Congressman; only 2 percent say it would make them more likely to vote for that person.

Likelihood Of Voting For Congressman If Received Contributions From Enron
More likely 2%
Less likely 29%
No difference 60%

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,034 adults, interviewed by telephone January 21-24, 2002. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

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