|Clinton-Lewinsky National Poll
Since the Lewinsky crisis broke in national news, public opinion has protected Clinton from the media frenzy and institutional opposition of special prosecutors and a hostile Congress.
National polls conducted since January 1998 show
Clinton's job rating has remained above 60 percent approval since the scandal broke. Even polls conducted after the Kathleen Willey charges show him maintaining his job approval.
The country has not only resisted punishing Clinton, but has raised the ratings of other controversial politicians and institutions. Hillary Clinton, Newt Gingrich and Congress are at recent highs in public approval. A plurality of the public now believe Clinton had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky. A third don't know and are waiting for the evidence. A majority also indicate they are not interested in more coverage of the issue.
The public believes the media has been too aggressive in the scandal. They feel Clinton has been treated unfairly.
The public rejects impeachment even when provided with a hypothetical scenario in which accusations are true that Clinton had an affair, lied under oath and encouraged Lewinsky to lie. The public prefers an apology.
Clinton's favorability rating as an individual is lower than his approval rating, and is more subject to the evolving scandal.
The public appears more protective of the presidency than the cynical times would imply. They share the view that "special" prosecutors have become too commonplace.
Clinton's bedrock support among many women and the Democratic party remains in place. These groups strongly support Clinton's policies and tend to accept the characterization of the investigation as part of a right-wing conspiracy.
Clinton defenses have thus far protected his approval rating. While his personal reputation is damaged, his political survival is secure for now. With continued prosperity and the lack of "smoking gun" evidence, the American people appear to be supporting the status quo in government.
Both Nixon and Reagan had approval ratings similar to Clinton, but both suffered erosion during their crises. Nixon dipped from a post-inaugural 67 percent in 1973 to 24 percent shortly before leaving office. Reagan suffered a record two-month decline of 16 percent during the Iran Contra crisis, but recovered to leave office with a 63 percent approval.
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