A majority of the public does not think the House of Representatives will vote for President Clinton's impeachment when it returns to work on Thursday, according to the latest CBS News/New York Times poll. Instead, Americans expect there will be some sort of compromise and censure worked out.
MOST SAY CHARGES NOT IMPEACHABLE
|What Will Happen In The House?|
And most Americans want Congress to pay attention to public opinion when it votes this week. Sixty-two percent say Congress should pay a lot of attention to what the majority of Americans think about impeachment when voting on it.
Most Americans, 66 percent, don't think the charges against President Clinton are serious enough to warrant impeachment and removal from office. In fact, 63 percent believe impeachment is too harsh a punishment for what he's done.
|How Should Your Rep. Vote?|
Reinforcing the fact that many Americans do not think the president's actions warrant impeachment is the desire for an alternative punishment. When asked specifically about another punishment, like censure, 57 percent said they would favor it, an increase since the election.
|Should Congress Censure Clinton?|
When asked if a vote of impeachment by the House would immediately result in the removal of President Clinton from office, 54 percent answered correctly that it would not, but 30 percent incorrectly said it would, and another 16 percent admitted they didn't know. [This is an improvement, up from 46 percent who knew what impeachment meant in early October.]
However, a person's knowledge of the definition of impeachment has little to do with that person's preference for or against it. Both those who know and those who don't know what impeachment means oppose impeaching Mr. Clinton.
CLINTON AND THE REPUBLICANS
Many people see Republican motivations negatively. By 62 percent to 29 percent, the public thinks Republicans who voted for impeachment did so mostly because they want to damage President Clinton and the DemocratsÂ—not because the charges are serious enough to warrant impeachment.
As for the president, his approval rating remains high, though his personal ratings [which had improved at the time of the election] are mixed. Sixty-seven percent approve of the way he is doing his job as president. But only 42 percent have an overall favorable opinion of him. Forty-three percent of opinions are unfavorable. Those results are much like the mixed favorable ratings in CBS News polls conducted through much of the fall.
Unlike some of the president's Congressional critics, many in the public say they don't need any more statements from him about this matter. Fifty-five percent are satisfied with Mr. Clinton's statements about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and the investigation. Thirty-nine percent think he still needs to say more.
This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 653 adults interviewed by telephone December 13, 1998. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the entire sample.
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