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THE V A R I A B L E | May 1998

Politicians Unscathed in Scandals, Press Takes Hit

No one likes a bully(least of all the public. Especially when it comes to press treatment of its leaders. A March 10th Ciruli Associates poll found Coloradans approving the job performance of both President Clinton and Gov. Roy Romer in the aftermath of their respective extra-marital scandals. Clinton scored a 63†percent approval and Romer earned an even higher 68†percent. But the public was tough on the press.

Coloradans are especially critical of the media's role in the Clinton/Monica Lewinsky imbroglio. Sixty-three percent say coverage is too aggressive and only 8 percent say it's not tough enough.

The harsh judgment comes despite a widespread belief among the public that Clinton had a sexual relationship with the White House intern (46 percent say he did; 38 percent aren't sure). Much of Colorado's ire is likely aimed at the national press core, which kept the Lewinsky matter at the top of the news for weeks, and continues to focus attention despite Clinton's efforts to "get back to work for the American people."

The public was less harsh on local coverage following Romer's admission of a 16-year extra-marital relationship. News coverage of Romer's admission wasn't as intense as Clinton's, and it faded quickly. Forty percent said coverage was ìtoo aggressive,î 18 percent said it was ìtoo timidî and 37 percent said it was "about right."

Q: Do you believe the news media is being too timid, too aggressive, or just about right in reporting: the investigation of President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky?; on Governor Roy Romer's 16year relationship with a woman who is not his wife?


Romer Picks Up Critics After Admission

Despite Gov. Romer's high job approval ratings following his admission of a 16-year extramarital relationship, a growing number are critical of him on a more personal "favorability" scale.

Unlike the job performance rating, favorability measures more general impressions of a political leader apart from just his job. A March 1998 Ciruli Associates poll shows Romer with a 54 percent favorability rating, which is the same as his pre-scandal level. However, Romer's negative rating (those who rate him "unfavorable") jumped 11 percent, from 18 percent in a January poll to 29 percent in March.

Women dropped their "very favorable" rating of Romer by 8 percent and increased their "very unfavorable" rating by 10 percent. Persons 65 years old or older dropped their "very favorable" rating by 5 percent and increased their "very unfavorable" rating by 20 percent.


Clinton and Lewinsky: Echos of Nixon and Watergate

The details are different, but as President Clinton's White House intern drama unfolds piece by piece, his defenses ring familiar to Nixon's Watergate crisis.

Consider the similarities: Both men initially score high approval ratings despite turmoil; both accuse their rivals of hatching a grand conspiracy to ruin them politically; both issue emphatic denials; both finesse the truth; and both find solace and support on foreign soil. Suddenly, Clinton's modern day defense sounds a lot like Nixon's 1970s approach.


Nixon and Clinton: Parallel Defense Strategies
Nixon Clinton
I am not a crook. I did not do it.
One year of Watergate is enough. I need to get back to work.
There is a liberal media conspiracy. There is a vast right-wing conspiracy.
Special Prosecutor Cox is a Kennedy man. Special Prosecutor Starr is a Jessie Helms man.
Rose Mary Woods did it Bettie Currie did it.
This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative. No single, innocent explanation.
Executive privilege invoked to protect Nixon from his own taped conversations. Executive privilege secretly invoked to protect Bill from Hillary's testimony.
One million Egyptians can't be wrong. Africa loves Bill.

Voters Shrug Off Deadlock, Prefer Party Balanc

The Framers had it right when they created checks and balances. So say metro area voters who, putting a modern-day twist on the original safeguard, would rather risk the deadlock of opposing parties than see one side control the state's executive and legislative branches.

Fifty-seven percent of metro Denver voters say they prefer that government be divided between Republican and Democrat rather than have one party dominate.

November 1998 will mark the first

Voters of all affiliations will take convincing to change their ways. In a recent Ciruli Associates poll, unaffiliated voters were most satisfied with divided government (62%), but both Democrats (53%) and Republicans (58%) seem to believe the dangers of deadlock are outweighed by the benefits of checks and balances.

Q: Which do you think is best for the operation of state government: That the governor and the majority of the state legislature be in the same party or that the governor and the majority of the state legislature be in different parties?

Denver Bucks Late — Term Abortion Trend

Metro area voters defy national trends in their lack of support for banning later-term abortions.

In Colorado, those who support a ban (45%) are nearly equal to those who oppose one (41%). Men and women veered only slightly in their opinions, with 44 percent of men in favor of a ban versus 46 percent of women.

Depending on question wording, national polling data since 1996 show up to 82 percent of Americans believe abortions should be "generally illegal" during the last three months of pregnancy. Other national polling data show 57 percent favor making "partial birth" abortions illegal in the final trimester. Opposition to bans ranges from 13 percent to 39 percent in the same surveys.

Q: Ban late-term abortions, defined as those in the last three months of pregnancy.
Oppose Support
ALL 41% 45%
Rep. 26% 63%
Dem. 53% 35%
Post Grad. 50% 36%
Ciruli Associates, Metro, N546, Mar. 1998

As expected, conservatives and Republicans in Colorado strongly favored the ban versus liberals and Democrats who opposed it. Strong opposition to banning partial birth abortions was also registered among members of the "new class," comprised of the best educated, highest income voters who are most likely to favor abortion freedom. Among those with a graduate degree or higher, 36 percent favor a ban versus 50 percent who oppose. And among post-grads whose income is $80,000 per year or higher, only 29 percent favor a ban and 55 percent oppose one.


Q: Prevent labor unions from using member dues for political activities without memberís written permission.
Oppose Support
Ban union dues for
Politics without
41% 45%
Ciruli Associates, Metro, N546, Mar. 1998

Metro Area Rejects
Mandatory Union Dues for Politics

A ballot initiative requiring union members to give written permission before dues could be used for political activities received overwhelming support from metro voters. The 68 percent who favored the initiative included support from 61 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans. In California, polls show a similar initiative also has large majorities of support.




©1998 Ciruli Associates. All rights reserved