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Poll: Americans Sick of Impeachment

February 3, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The American public is worn out with the impeachment process and has grown critical of the Senate for its handling of President Clinton’s trial, says a poll released Wednesday.

And they’re mostly blaming Republicans, according to the CBS News/New York Times Poll.

While political analysts say there remains time for Republicans to change the subject after the trial and push their legislative agenda, the poll found unease within the GOP that the continuing impeachment saga will hurt the party’s prospects in the 2000 elections. Half the conservative Republicans surveyed said the way House and Senate Republicans have handled the matter would make it harder for Republican candidates to win elections.

Overall, more than two-thirds of those polled said the Senate does not need to call witnesses to help senators decide how to vote on the articles of impeachment. Almost three-quarters said the videotaped testimony of Monica Lewinsky, Vernon Jordan and Sidney Blumenthal should not be made public, and more than three-quarters said the Senate trial has taught them nothing new about the situation.

Fifty-six percent disapproved of the way the Senate is handling the trial, while 37 percent approved. Just three weeks ago, in a poll by CBS News, 46 percent said they approved the Senate’s handling of the trial, and 41 percent disapproved.

Among those who identified themselves as conservative Republicans, almost a third said they didn’t approve of how the Senate was conducting the trial.

While Republicans were viewed as the party most capable of upholding moral values, Democrats were considered most able to tackle issues like Social Security, education and health care. Democrats were viewed at least as able as Republicans to handle issues like tax cuts and crime, normally considered the province of the GOP.

Two-thirds of those questioned said the way House and Senate Republicans have handled the impeachment matter has hurt the public image of the party.

Fifty-six percent of Americans said they hold a positive view of the Democratic Party, while 37 percent hold a negative view. For Republicans, 41 percent had a positive view, 52 percent negative.

The survey of 1,058 adults taken Saturday through Monday had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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