Public-Interest Polling

ATI #33

REPORT ON A SURVEY (ATI #33, N=1088)
Sponsored by PublicInterestPolling.com
August 20-26, 2007

"CONSTITUTION
&
GOVERNANCE ISSUES"

POWERS THE CONSTITUTION GIVES TO THE THREE
BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT
SETS UP
CHECKS AND BALANCES for
the PRESIDENCY, the CONGRESS, and the JUDICIARY.

The survey sought the opinions of the American people on whether the Presidency is violating the Constitution by ignoring required cooperation with the Congress and the Judiciary
and, if so, how the
Congress should use the Constitutionally mandated remedy,
IMPEACHMENT
and other means to the same end:
RESIGNATION and CENSURE

Alan F Kay, PhD, St Augustine FL, 32085, PO box 5190,
904-826-0984, 904-826-4194 fax, i@alanfkay.com
September 11, 2007

SURVEY PURPOSE & HIGHLIGHTS

The survey purpose is to determine if the American people believe the Presidency is violating the Constitution by ignoring required cooperation with the Congress and the Judiciary, and, if so, how the Congress should use the constitutionally mandated remedy, impeachment, or other means to the same end, resignation and censure. The first question asks for a response on a scale of 1 to 5, where "1" means you believe that the powers of the three branches are balanced and fully check each other as the Constitution requires and "5" means the executive branch represented by the President has taken on so much power in the war against terrorism that our civil liberties are now dangerously threatened, the higher the number the further you believe we are from abiding by the Constitution. Discounting the 20% who gave the neutral response "3", and DK of only 2%, a majority of 53% to 26% believes that the government is not abiding by the Constitution. A follow-on question asking how serious is this loss of civil liberties finds seriousness is "very" 61%, "somewhat" 25%, "not very" 7%, "not-at-all" 6%, DK=1%, or collapsed, serious vs. not-serious is 86% to 13%.

HIGHLIGHTS

(1) Among five pro and con reasons for impeachment of President Bush, by far the largest one-sided response is: "If Bush is NOT removed from office by impeachment or by resigning, his term ends January 20, 2009. Bush will leave office having established precedents for new war powers unavailable to his predecessors and possibly attractive to his successors. These new war powers could be beyond control of both Congress and the Courts. How concerned are you that the developments after Bush leaves office will lead to the loss of our democracy? "43% extremely" and "28% somewhat" concerned, "7% unconcerned" and "20% not at all" concerned, collapsed 71% to 27%.

(2) When told that President Bush says, "We are in a Global War on Terrorism", and asked if we are winning, losing, or neither the results are Winning 35%, Losing 42%, Neither 17%. When the same question is asked of another sample but with only one change: "President Bush says" is replaced by "Our leaders say", the results are very different: Winning 12%, Losing 70%, Neither 14%. This result suggests many of the 70% of Americans who believe we are losing the war, and others too, would love to believe in Bush, support his policies and dearly hope somehow he can turn it around. When Bush's name labels the question rather than non-specific leaders, then as an affirmation of patriotism, the support of Bush rises by a 24 point increase in winning and a 28 point decrease in losing.

(3) An earlier survey of the American Research Group (7/5/07) found a majority of 54% favorable to impeaching Cheney and 45% for impeaching Bush. Almost two months later smaller margins oppose even beginning impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives against Bush (43% favor, down 2 points) or Cheney (46% favor, down 8 points) .

It is important to note that this drop in impeachment desire of the two nationally elected officials does not mean that impeachment of other administration officials is not favored. On the contrary, for beginning impeachment proceedings against an [unnamed] administration official where "Congress has hard evidence that the official failed to yield important information that Congress sought" finds 67% favorable and 25% opposed to impeachment, a majority of more than two to one favoring starting impeachment.

And it doesn't mean that there are not other ways to make Bush more cooperative with Congress. Americans would favor a bill in the Senate censuring Bush for breaking the law, by 54% versus 39% opposed.

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WASHINGTON IN TENSION

It is no secret that the majority of the American people are dissatisfied with the job President George W. Bush is doing. That fact is confirmed by the 2006 election and every one of the hundreds of polls done by virtually every US polling organization since 2005 and earlier. In addition, many of these polls show that it is by more than 2 to 1, the people are dissatisfied with Bush's job performance

It's not just Bush's job failure. Confirmed by CNN/ORCP in September (06), January (07,) and most recently (8/7/07), majorities of the public in every case think that Bush does not have the personality and leadership qualities a president should have, disagree with Bush on the issues that matter to people, believe Bush's presidency is a failure, and have less confidence in Bush, than in the Democrats in Congress. Beyond that, Bush's War in Iraq has been considered by many foreign policy and military experts as the greatest foreign policy and military disaster in the history of the United States.

Bush is clueless on the frustration with him felt by the large majority of the American people that includes a substantial number of Republicans. Bush and Cheney are determined to stay the course until the end of their term, January 20, 2009, another 16 months.

During the first 6 years of their administration, the Republicans controlled the Presidency, the House and Senate. They do not want to give up their power even though they lost their Congressional majority in 2006. With the House and Senate (barely!) controlled by the Democrats since January 2007, the Republican lawmakers in Congress and the Republican presidential candidates struggle to ignore the public's negativity to Bush. So far they have not broken their allegiance to Bush or let more than a crack open between his issue positions and theirs. That translates into less important issues getting more attention than more serious issues.

The President has veto power that can only be overridden by a 2/3rds vote of Congress. With the thin margin of Democrat control of the Senate, as long as all but about 20 Republicans in the Senate stay in lockstep with the President, the Republicans can quash any bill, even one that many of the Senate Republicans favor. It plays out as if Republicans and Democrats would rather see any law, even one they both favor, buried than to get anything done. Thus the 110th Congress, is seen largely as a "do nothing" Congress, with approval rating having dropped to 24%, worse than Bush's 33%.

The whole House and a third of the Senate are up for re-election in 2008. Republicans wanting to hold onto their seats, feel threatened by the negative attitudes of most voters toward Bush. They are being squeezed between the desire for their own re-election that presses them to take positions opposed to Bush's and their desire to vote Bush's way in the Senate to make veto threats realistic (even in many cases where the vote itself turns out not to be required.) This situation is examined in ANALYSIS Q6 & 7

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REMINDERS OF NIXON'S TIME

No polling organization has done an entire survey on Constitutional issues of separation of powers and few have asked any questions about impeachment, in part because both political parties and especially their presidential candidates do not want to deal with impeachment. Nor do they wish to consider it or learn about the public's support for it, especially if that support is growing. As we shall see, hiding from the impeachment issue is a mistake.

Obviously, the Republicans don't want Bush removed from office prior to the end of his term. His removal would signal to the world that the US will walk away from military situations that have gotten too difficult and thereby leave a disaster for victims and for those responsible for the war. That outcome might evolve into a major loss by the party and an inability for years or decades to recover to their recent full control of the presidency and legislative branches. The Republican party may decline, ultimately even fade away altogether.

The Democrats in Congress, with the exception of a few Members, do not favor an impeachment of Bush that could be nasty, prolonged, and unsuccessful. Some of the Senate Democrats who went along with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 are tarred with the same brush as Bush. Now Iraq is a growing albatross for Republicans to deal with. The new President, perhaps a Democrat, and Congress, if Democratically controlled, would have to deal with the many problems that have festered during the Bush administration, particularly the problem of the devastating and costly ongoing operation in Iraq which may be around for decades* and the potential backlash of Bush's "Global War on Terrorism" lasting indefinitely, perhaps forever.

-----------------------------------------------------

* Consider the significance of the US Embassy in Baghdad, largest in the world, being built at the cost of a billion dollars, heavily defended in the Green Zone, off limits to all Iraqis, and making sure the major international non-Muslim oil companies get a large share of Iraq's oil.

A NEW PLAYER IN DECISION-MAKING

Fears are rampant concerning the growing power of the Presidency as opposed to Congress and the need to maintain separation of powers between the three branches of government as required by the Constitution. These fears are increased by the failure of the mainstream media to perform its function as the Watchdog "Fourth Branch" of our government. The calamities exacerbated by Bush and the neo-cons in his administration can become even worse if the public's view is not brought into the many considerations required to get America out of the Iraq quagmire and the "Global War on Terrorism". Many other allies' leaders are bowing out of Iraq and reject the view of a global war on terrorism – preferring to call it "an international police action on terrorists". Opening up the government to the American people's thinking about impeachment and other ways to turn in a new direction is the reason PublicInterestPolling.com undertook this survey. The survey itself suggests that there are other choices and possibilities that need to be brought into national decision-making to find the best choices America can make for the future.

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BALANCED BIAS

The sponsor of this survey, PublicInterestPolling.com, follows the rules established in my Location Consensus for Democracy – a Ten Year US Experiment, 1998, pp. 338-339, for polling in the public's interest. Rule 9 states, "Individuals who are key in the sponsoring organizations or are themselves sponsors should make clear their own biases on the policy questions in each survey by saying honestly how they would respond to these questions. Sponsors should voluntarily take the test that they ask others to voluntarily take."

One of the many pollsters who contributed to the design of this survey, was Republican Fred Steeper of Market Strategies, pollster for the campaigns and the presidencies of both Bush 41 and Bush 43. Every change that Steeper said was needed to remove anti-Republican bias was accepted in the survey design.

A survey sponsor and principal author of the questionnaire, Alan F Kay, has his own bias. He agrees with the large majority of Americans who disapprove the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president and, in fact, agrees with the majority's responses to the several full sample questions in this survey where the majority is more than two to one larger than the minority, with small DK. As a WWII veteran, Kay has not seen any US war since 1945, including Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and the Cold War, where smart diplomacy, incentives, and support, might well have foreshortened or avoided the war, illustrated by the successful war-avoiding victory in the Cold War. Smart behavior would have made the US – decade after decade – ever stronger and the world a better place. As for US wars, most but probably not all would be eliminated.

Many respondents to the survey and some pollsters who contributed suggestions for broadening and deepening survey questions, believe the survey is biased. Republicans tend to believe that any investigation of impeachment of Republicans, is unfair and harmful to the goals of their party. Democrats believe that considering impeachment, would be hurtful to the Democratic party's effort to be the party of inclusion, good judgment and responsibility.

Yes, a survey on the power of the Presidency and Constitutional separation of powers, including the founders' remedy, impeachment, is a hot potato. Many Americans in the general public reflect the same attitude as one party or the other and thus feel that the survey was designed by people who are biased against their own attitudes. It shows in the question responses. It can be seen in the sometimes startling findings of the Master Questionnaire.

There is a general use of bias to achieve balance. It is acceptable for a question to be biased if it is part of a question-set that is balanced in the sense that a bias one way in a question is offset if it is biased in the opposite way in another question in the question set. Competent pollsters know how to do that.

On the negative side, the prevalence of cell phones, the likelihood of young people to not be home, and other factors are biasing the responding sample toward older higher income respondents. This bias is no longer as close to a random sample as we all would like. PublicInterestPolling had no difficulty with this issue in the thirty surveys it sponsored in the era 1987 to 1999. More care will be taken to understand and compensate for this development in future surveys.

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MASTER QUESTIONNAIRE
"Constitution and Governance Issues"
August 20-26, 2007
N = 1088 Adults

Q1. As you may know, our Constitution sets up checks and balances on the powers it gives our three branches of government, the Congress, the President, and the Judiciary. On the division of powers, how well do you think the government is abiding by the Constitution? Give me your answer please on a scale from 1 to 5 where 1 means you believe that the powers of the three branches are balanced and fully check each other as the Constitution requires and 5 means the executive branch represented by the President has taken on so much power in the war against terrorism that our civil liberties are now dangerously threatened. You can give me any number from 1 to 5, the higher the number the further we are from abiding by the Constitution.

1 13%, 2 13%, 3 20%, 4 21%, 5 32%, DK=2%. 4+5 vs 1+2 = 53% to 26%.

How serious is this loss of civil liberties? Very 61%, Somewhat 25%, Not very 7%, Not-at-all 6%, DK=1%. Serious vs Not Serious = 86% vs. 13%

Q2 (½ sample). A sample: President Bush says –, B sample: Our leaders say – "we are in a global war on terrorism". The leaders of many other nations, including US allies, describe it as the "international criminal justice and police action against terrorists". Which description best fits your own view?

A sample "Global war on terrorism" 41%
"international police action against terrorists" 45%, DK= 14%.
B sample "Global war on terrorism" 44%
"international police action against terrorists 44%, DK=12%

Do you think we are winning or losing the "global war on terrorism"/ "the international police action against terrorists"?

A sample Winning 35%, Losing 42%, Neither 17% , DK=6%
B sample Winning 12%, Losing 70%, Neither 14%, DK=5%.

Q3. Recently the President has used his new powers to further widen the legal reach for wiretapping and eavesdropping on international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without search warrants approved by a special intelligence court. The role of the courts and the judiciary are diminished in this process. Does hearing this example of the diminished role of the judiciary affect your thinking on whether the Constitution is being violated or not?
Not being violated 27%. Violated not very seriously 15%. Violated very seriously 55%,
DK=3%. Being Violated vs. Not Being Violated: 70% to 27%.

Q4. Regarding Presidential power, do you approve or disapprove of President Bush commuting the 30-month prison sentence of "Scooter" Libby while leaving intact Mr. Libby's conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case? Approve 23%, Disapprove 64%, DK=13%.

Q5. Do you favor or oppose a complete presidential pardon for Mr. Libby?
Favor 16%, Oppose 69%, DK=14%.

[Rotate Q6 and Q7]
Q6. If you heard that a group of Republican House and Senate members had asked that President Bush resign because he had gone too far, would you be pleased with what those Congressional Republicans had done? Pleased 48%. Not pleased 43%. DK=6%.

Q7. If you heard that a group of Republican House and Senate members had asked that Vice President Cheney resign because he had gone too far, would you be pleased with what those Congressional Republicans had done? Pleased 50%. Not pleased 38%. DK=10%.

Q8. A bill in the Senate would censure SEN-SHUR President Bush for breaking the law. Do you favor or oppose Senators calling for a censure of Bush?
Favor Strongly 38%, Somewhat 16%, Oppose Somewhat 13%, Strongly 26%, DK=7%
Favor to Oppose ratio: 54% to 39%

[Rotate Q9, Q10, Q11]
Q9. Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against President Bush?
Favor Strongly 31%, Somewhat 12%, Oppose Somewhat 15%, Strongly 37%, DK=4%.
Favor to Oppose ratio: 43% to 52%

Q10. Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Cheney?
Favor Strongly 34%, Somewhat 12%, Oppose Somewhat 17%, Strongly 30%, DK=6%.
Favor to Oppose ratio: 46% to 47%

Q11. Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against an administration official -- provided that Congress has hard evidence that the official failed to yield important information that Congress sought?
Favor Strongly 47%, Somewhat 20%, Oppose Somewhat 11%, Strongly 14%, DK=8%.
Favor to Oppose ratio: 67% to 25%.

I'm going to read you some arguments and ask whether each makes you more favorable or more opposed to impeachment.

Q12. Here is the first: The US Constitution makes it clear that officials convicted in an impeachment trial, unlike other trials, can either be found not-guilty or be removed from office. That's all. There can be no fines or imprisonment. They go free, no matter what. Does hearing this make you favor or oppose impeachment more?
Favor Strongly 27%, Somewhat 17%, Oppose Somewhat 17%, Strongly 25%, DK=14%.
Favor to Oppose ratio: 44% to 42%.

Q13. Next: If Bush, Cheney or other top administration officials are removed from office, they are widely known around the world and have many ways they can use their enormous experience to further enhance their wealth and to enlighten many others. Does hearing this make you favor or oppose impeachment more?
Favor Strongly 26%, Somewhat 14%, Oppose Somewhat 17%, Strongly 25%, DK=8%.
Favor to Oppose ratio: 40% to 42%.

Q14. Next: If both Bush and Cheney were impeached and together removed from office, then Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, according to the Constitution could become a caretaker President until the 2008 election. Does hearing this make you favor or oppose impeachment more?
Favor Strongly 27%, Somewhat 14%, Oppose Somewhat 10%, Strongly 32%, DK=10%.
Favor to Oppose ratio: 41% to 48%.

Q15. Next: An impeachment process can take up a lot of time and keep the government from paying attention to the things it should be doing. Does hearing this make you favor or oppose impeachment more?
Favor Strongly 26%, Somewhat 14%, Oppose Somewhat 17%, Strongly 25%, DK=8%.
Favor to Oppose ratio: 40% to 42%.

Q16. Next: If Bush is NOT removed from office by impeachment or by resigning, his term ends January 20, 2009. Bush will leave office having established precedents for new war powers unavailable to his predecessors and possibly attractive to his successors. These new war powers could be beyond control of both Congress and the Courts. How concerned are you that the developments after Bush leaves office will lead to the loss of our democracy?
Concerned Extremely 43%, Somewhat 28%, Unconcerned Somewhat 7%, Not-at-all 20%.
Concerned to Unconcerned ratio: 71% to 27%.

Q17. Now that you have considered these arguments, I'll ask you again. Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Bush?
Favor Strongly 32%, Somewhat 11%, Oppose Somewhat 14%, Strongly 39%, DK=3%.
Favor to Oppose ratio: 43% to 53%.

Q18 Now that you have considered these arguments, I'll ask you again. Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Cheney?
Favor Strongly 34%, Somewhat 12%, Oppose Somewhat 16%, Strongly 34%, DK=4%.
Favor to Oppose ratio: 46% to 50%.

Q19 I would like to ask you again the very first question I asked. As you may know, our Constitution sets up checks and balances on the powers it gives our three branches of government, the Congress, the President, and the Judiciary. On the division of powers, how well do you think the government is abiding by the Constitution? Give me your answer please on a scale from 1 to 5 where 1 means you believe that the powers of the three branches are balanced and fully check each other as the Constitution requires and 5 means the executive branch represented by the President has taken on so much power in the war against terrorism that our civil liberties are now dangerously threatened. You can give me any number from 1 to 5, the higher the number the further we are from abiding by the Constitution.

1 13%, 2 12%, 3 20%, 4 22%, 5 20%, DK=13%
4+5 vs 1+2 = 42% to 25%.

How serious is this loss of civil liberties? Very 58%, Somewhat 26%, Not very 6%, Not-at-all 9%, DK=1%. Serious vs Not Serious = 84% vs. 15%

Now I'd like to ask you a few questions for statistical purposes

Q20. Are you registered to vote? Yes 94%, No 6%, DK*.

Q21. Would you consider yourself a Democrat 38%, Republican 22%, or Independent 37%, DK=3%.

Q22. Do you consider yourself a Conservative 34%, Liberal 14%, or Moderate 45%, DK= 7%.

Q23. Which of the following categories best describes your age?
18-24 5%, 25-34 9%, 35-44 17%, 45-54 22% , 55-64 24%, 65-74 15% , 75+ 9%, DK*.

Q24. What is the last grade of school you completed?
Grade school or less 2%, Some high school (Grade 9-11) 5% , Graduated high school (Grade 12) 21%, Vocational school/Technical school 3%, Some college- 2 yrs or less 23%, Graduated college, 27%, Post Graduate Degree (e.g. MA, MBA, LLD, PhD) 19%, DK*.

RELIGION
Q25. ½ Sample A. Is your religious background Christian 82%, Jewish 1%, Muslim *, Hindu *, Buddhist , Other 9%, No religion or atheist 5% , DK=3%. If Christian ask these two questions: (i) Are you a Fundamentalist? Yes 47 % No 47 %, DK=7%. Do you believe that every word of the bible is true? 9% (ii) Are you an Evangelical? Yes 18%, No 68%, DK=14%. Do you believe that Christians should work hard to convert others to Christianity? 9%

½ Sample B. Is your religious background, Protestant 40%, Roman Catholic 20%, other Christian 17% , Jewish 2% or Other non-Christian 17%, DK=4% .

Q26. Which of the following income groups includes your TOTAL FAMILY INCOME in 2006 before taxes? Just stop me when I read the correct category. Up to $20,000 9%, $20,000 - $35,000 14%, $35,000-$60,000 26%, $60,000 - $100,000 22%, $100,000-$250,000 17%, $250,000 - $600,000 2%, over $600,000 * DK=12%.

Q27. If Q26 is refused, Would you please tell me if your family income was under or over $60,000? Under $60,000 3%, Over $60,000 2%, DK=7%.

Q28. Is your racial or ethnic heritage White, Black/African-American, Hispanic or something else? White 78% Black 11%, Hispanic/Spanish-American/Chicano 5%, Oriental/Asian 1%, American-Indian/Native- American 2%. If your background is mixed, you may choose more than one category, DK=3%. [Note – the controversial word Chicano was used in the survey and brought the number accepting this category down to about half of what it should be. Latino would have been more acceptable.]

Q29. By observation: Male 47%, Female 53%.

Q30. Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"
Approve 29%, Disapprove 65%, DK=6%.
More than 2 to 1 disapprove.

Q31. ½ SampleA. Have you known anybody who has been killed or seriously wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq? Yes 30%, No 70%, DK=1%.
½ SampleB
. Have you been close to anybody who has been killed or seriously wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq? Yes 21%, No 79%, DK=1%.

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ANALYSIS

The first question, Q1, Violating the Constitution, asks on a scale of 1 to 5, whether the President's war on terrorism violates the Constitution, where 1 means "not-at-all violated" and the higher the number the more "you believe the Constitution is violated". Only 13% chose 1 and only 2% are considered "DK", standing for "Don't Know" and meaning that less than 2% of the public have a problem responding to the question wording. The enormous majority, 85% believe there is some violation, with 53% in the top two categories, 4 and 5 together, that outnumber the lower group 1 and 2, by two to one. (Those saying 3 are in the middle and do not change the balance). When asked how serious is the loss of civil liberties, those answering "very or somewhat serious" outnumber those answering "not at all or not very serious" by 86% to 13% with DK only 1%. These dramatic and bold results justify the usefulness and validity of asking such a detailed two part question.

Q2. Let's get everybody on the same page. Leaders of many other nations including US allies, describe what President Bush says is a "global war on terrorism" as the "international criminal justice and/or police action against terrorists", sometimes simplified as "Bush's war on terrorists". Which description best fits the views of Americans? The answer is "Global war on terrorism" 41%, and "international police action against terrorists" 45%. In this case, the DKs are 14%, much higher than in Q1. Americans who don't see the difference between the choices are 14 to one more numerous than the preceding questions' DKs. A follow-up question, "Do you think we are winning the "global war on terrorism" when added to the "winning" or "losing" responses of those using the shorthand, "Bush's war on terrorists", added together show that Americans believe we are Winning 35% or Losing 42%, while 17% said Neither and DK was 6%. A plurality of Americans do not buy Bush's assertion that we are winning.

At the suggestion of prominent pollster, Al Richman, the preceding question was asked as half sample A. For half sample B, the only change was "President Bush says" was replaced by "Our leaders say". Al predicted that many people are less willing to go against the Bush label than non-specific leaders. He was correct. A significant number of Americans switch over to language that would make Bush happier. 41% went to 44%, 45% went down to 44%, and DKs went from 17% went down to 12%.

Al was even more correct when it came to the follow-up action question, "Are we winning, losing, or neither?" "Winning" dropped from 35% for Bush to 12% for leaders. "Losing" went the other way, 42% for Bush rose enormously to 70% for leaders. "Neither" went from 17% to 14% and DKs went from 6% to 5%. Almost half the people are ready to say what they think in a neutral setting. Most people know what Bush wants to hear and almost half of them say what Bush would want them to.

The result is amazing. It means that the public knows that Bush won't listen to bad news and requires his staff to keep those who articulately oppose his view out of his sight. The American people are almost as happy to satisfy him (using words that cost nothing) as the White House staff (that spends a fortune for Bush to hear only good news and keep articulate opponents out of sight).

The wording of the next question, Q3, regarding wire-tapping, explores public acceptance of the presidential branch violating the Constitution by improperly ignoring the Judiciary while Q1 did the same thing by showing the presidential branch improperly ignoring Congress. For the question of Bush vs. the Judiciary, Q3 shows by example the public believes by more than two to one the presidency is improperly ignoring the Judiciary.

In Q4 Bush's commuting of Scooter Libby's prison sentence produced the disapproval of a 64% majority. This suggests that the American people generally understood this scenario. If his sentence were not commuted, as soon as Mr. Libby entered his cell, it would hit him that he was starting an undesirable 30-month prison sentence and later would be marked as an ex-convict. He would be tempted to spill some beans that could shorten or revoke his sentence. This would hurt the Vice President and possibly the President too. Aware of that possibility, President Bush commuted Mr. Libby's sentence entirely, thereby avoiding an enormous risk to himself and Vice President Cheney.

Table 1
About Scooter Libby
Q4    
Approve
Disapprove
Undecided
All Adults    
31%
23%
64%
64%
5%
13%
Voters    
26%
24%
69%
65%
5%
12%
Democrats (38%) (38%)
13%
7%
76%
84%
11%
9%
Republicans (29%) (22%)
50%
44%
47%
40%
3%
17%
Independents (33%) (37%)
19%
24%
80%
61%
1%
15%
    (DK=4%)
Q5    
Favor
Oppose
Undecided
All Adults    
11%
16%
84%
69%
5%
14%
Voters    
9%
17%
84%
70%
7%
14%
Democrats (38%) (38%)
7%
6%
82%
85%
11%
9%
Republicans (29%) (22%)
23%
33%
70%
47%
7%
20%
Independents (33%) (37%)
2%
16%
97%
68%
1% .
15%
    (DK=4%)

 

Table 1 – Comparison of Results, July 5th 2007 and August 26th 2007

The results of the questions previously asked by the American Research Group released in July 5, 2007 are in black, while the findings of this survey are in red.

In opposition to a complete presidential pardon for Mr. Libby the disapproval by Americans rose to 69% in Q5, but there was no rush for the President to pardon Mr. Libby. That could be done later quietly.

In the six weeks between the two surveys, the percentage of Democrats had stayed the same but the percentage of Republicans had dropped 7 points or 24% and the Independents and others rose about 21%. The Undecided (i.e. DKs) had increased for all categories by between 7% and 14%, except for one, the Democrat DKs that dropped from 11% to 9% or 2 points. This can be explained. Some of the Republicans are now thinking of themselves as Independents and all the Republicans and Independents are growing less sure (i.e., more undecided – same as more DKs). Democrats are probably more undecided too, but if so that effect was drowned out by the strengthening of their anti-Bush attitude in the 56 days between the two surveys.

Q6-7
We have mentioned in the Washington in Tension section the pressure on many Republican House and Senate members to "crossover", that is take positions they feel essential for re-election that oppose the legislative support Bush needs to keep Republican-backed bills alive and successful and Democratic bills tied up and failing. At some point in the "crossover" process a group of Republican members might ask Bush to resign. They may have already done this very quietly. If so Bush turned them down. If he had not, we would all know it. His resignation would have produced the day's top story for all the world's media.

Looking ahead, over time, more and more Republican members may peel off from helping Bush legislatively, and each one that does makes it easier for others to do so. If the group is large enough so that without their support, Bush would lose effective control of Congress to a Democrat-controlled coalition with Republicans, then it is more likely that Bush might resign under a condition, possibly such as this. Bush would name the next President. Here is how that can be done. When Bush resigned, Cheney would become President and agree to accept Bush's selection, say X, as Vice President. Then, under the understanding between himself, Bush, and some key Republicans, Cheney would have to resign prior to the end of the term and X would be sworn in to serve as President until January 20th, 2009. As a sitting President, X would have an advantage in the 2008 election to serve 4 and possibly 8 years as President.

Q6 was selected as a single question that would show the public's reaction to a generic description of the possibility of resignation by President Bush. Q7 language was identical except for the words "Vice President Cheney" replacing "President Bush". The question responses revealed how "pleased" or "displeased" they would be if they knew that Republican lawmakers had asked the President to resign. Pluralities responded "pleased" in both Q6 and Q7, but neither was a majority. The break-out along party lines is amazing. For Democrats the "pleased" to "displeased" break-out was 81% to 15% (DK=3%). For Republicans the break-out was the opposite 76% "displeased" to 15% "pleased" (DK=4%). By 5 to 1 Republicans in the general public are saying to Republican lawmakers, "Don't you dare ask Bush to resign!" For Cheney the Democrats were less "pleased" and the Republicans in the general public dropped a little, 3.8 to 1, still saying to lawmakers, "Don't you dare".

Q8
The only two ways to remove a President from office are forced pressure for resignation or conviction in an impeachment trial. There is another way to express dissatisfaction with the President that could conceivably lead to forced resignation. This question found a 54% majority favorable for Senators (such as Russ Feingold of Wisconsin) to call for a censure of Bush that breaks-out this way: Democrats are 5.4 to one in favor of censure and Republicans are 3.9 to one opposed to censure. Independents split evenly, one to one.

Table 2
Q9 Bush – Impeach?
     
Favor
Oppose
Undecided
All Adults    
45%
43%
46%
52%
9%
4%
Voters    
46%
43%
44%
53%
10%
4%
Democrats (38%) (38%)
69%
69%
22%
27%
9%
4%
Republicans (29%) (22%)
13%
9%
86%
88%
1%
3%
Independents (33%) (37%)
50%
37%
30%
57%
20%
5%
    (DK=4%)
Q10 Cheney – Impeach?
     
Favor
Oppose
Undecided
All Adults    
54%
46%
40%
48%
6%
5%
Voters    
50%
45%
44%
49%
6%
5%
Democrats (38%) (38%)
76%
78%
24%
18%
--
5%
Republicans (29%) (22%)
17%
12%
83%
82%
--
6%
Independents (33%) (37%)
51%
43%
29%
51%
20%
6%
    (DK=4%)

 

Table 2

Q9 and Q10 results are compared in Table 2 with the earlier findings (released July 5, 2007) of the same questions by the American Research Group in black and this survey in red.

The survey tested public support for impeachment of Bush and Cheney separately (Q9 and Q10) and is able to teach us that the majority of Americans are not favorable to impeachment of either one. A significant result in Table 2 is Cheney's impeachment favored by an absolute majority, 54%, of all adults. The highpoint in the current survey was also with Cheney's impeachment at 46% of all adults, a drop of 9 points, and clearly no majority.

Q11 tested public support for impeachment of "an administration official that Congress has hard evidence that the official failed to yield important information that Congress had sought." and found a complete and amazing reversal. Americans, perhaps aware of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' dealings with Congress, approve of impeachment by 2.7 to one. This result suggests that other administration officials who have ignored responding to request for information that Congress legitimately sought, would have the full support of 2/3rds of the American people. Impeachment of delinquent officials will bring on much more public success, but the public is also saying, just keep away from impeaching the President and the Vice President.

Q12 – Q16 presented five different pieces of information (Table 3), generally not well known publicly, testing whether knowing them made the respondents more favorable or more opposed to generic impeachment (no specific office holder mentioned) and then in Q17 and Q18 re-asking the same question.

The survey research tool, the Debate Format, is a sequence of questions generally of this nature "Question => pro and con information => Re-ask Question". The debate format was used many times in Americans Talk Issues surveys 1987-1999, and is published by PublicInterestPolling.com and documented in Locating Consensus for Democracy – a Ten Year US Experiment, Alan F Kay, 1998. See pages 53-58, and elsewhere in the index for Debate Format.

Table 3
  Impeachment Process Favorable Opposed Difference
Q12 If convicted, he goes free 44% 42% 2%
Q13 and can do very well 40 42√ -2
Q14 Pelosi presidency possible 41 48√ -7
Q15 Takes too much time 31 62√ -31
Q16 If not, democracy threatened 71 27 44
 
average
45 44  

 

Table 3 – Learning the five pieces of information

The mark shows that Q12 and Q16 are more favored than opposed, whereas Q13, Q14, and Q15 are more opposed than favored. The question that has the greatest impact on Americans (71%, favorable) is Q16, where the unitary executive view of the Presidency, the branch that tends to ignore the other two branches, is a great concern to the public as possibly ending our democracy. This issue should be recommended to all concerned Americans. Q15 Taking too much time and attention away from other important measures, produced the second largest impact of the five, and makes both parties more opposed, but Republicans more than Democrats. The average percentage as shown in Table 3, are almost identical and suggest that presenting these five arguments on balance to all who had answered the first impeachment question Q9 and Q10 would change their responses on balance very little when re-asked in Q17.

That, indeed, is the case. Here are the details on the effect of new information on the favor to oppose ratio that went from 43% to 52% in Q9 compared to 43% to 54% in Q17, and 46% to 47% in Q10 compared to 46% to 50% in Q18. That's down 1 percentage point for impeaching Bush and down 3 percentage points for impeaching Cheney.

The Debate Format on impeachment was embedded in another debate format that began in Q1 and was re-asked as the last question, Q19. The entire survey in between, from Q2 to Q18, can be viewed as the "pro and con information". Q1 asked two questions of respondents. In Q1 the responses that measured the concern with the loss of civil liberties was the ratio 53% to 26% and, a measurement of the seriousness of that loss was the ratio 86% to 13%. When asked identically in Q19, about 15 minutes later in the live telephone survey, these ratios were, respectively, 42% to 25% and 84% to 15%, a small, but clear, drop in loss of both the concern and the seriousness. Both metrics came nowhere near significant enough to imply a real change in attitudes by the public.

With the presidential term still having 16 months to run, it would be interesting and perhaps very revealing, if this survey was re-asked again (of a new sample, of course), perhaps several times in the next 16 months. The desire for impeachment may climb or it may shrink. It will be extremely interesting and perhaps extremely important to know that.

On another point, there are 58 pages of demographic question details that have been cross-tabbed with all the substantive questions including the demographic questions themselves. Almost the only cross-tabs we have used in this analysis have been political party affiliation. Of course, there are many other significant correlations, but as far as I have been able to tell, they are not very impressive, and certainly not as dramatic, extreme, and important as the correlations achieved with party affiliation.

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