POLL QUESTIONNAIRE

Date: January 26-31, 1999 Sample size: 1204 respondents
Margins of error: Half sample (600*) +/- 4%
Three-quarter sample (900*) +/- 3.5% Whole sample (1204) +/- 3%

Results (including demographics) are weighted to the Bureau of the Census's Current Population Study for education level and age.

*Subsample sizes are approximate due to the nature of random computer assignment to subsamples.

[Full sample]
Q1. What is your feeling about how things are going with the economy in the US? Overall, would you say the economy is getting better, is getting worse, or staying about the same?

Is getting better 34.7%
Is getting worse 14.7%
Is staying about the same 47.4%
Don't know/Refused 3.2%

[Full sample]
Q2. Is your personal financial situation getting better, getting worse or staying about the same?

Is getting better 28.1%
Is getting worse 13.6%
Is staying about the same 57.7%
Don't know/Refused 0.7%

[Full sample]
Q3. Over the years, how much attention do you feel the government pays to what the people think when it decides what to do-a good deal, some, or not much?

A good deal 7.4%
Some 36.0%
Not much 53.7%
Don't know/Refused 2.9%

[Half sample]
Q4. In general, do you think people in government understand what most Americans think-very well, somewhat well, not that well, or not well at all?

Very well 5.1%
Somewhat well 30.3%
Not that well 32.5%
Not well at all 30.5%
Don't know/Refused 1.5%

[Half sample]
Q5. In general, do you think people in government understand what people like you think-very well, somewhat well, not that well, or not well at all?

Very well 2.4%
Somewhat well 27.1%
Not that well 32.8%
Not well at all 34.5%
Don't know/Refused 3.1%

Statement: For the following two statements, please tell me whether you agree, disagree, or neither agree nor disagree:

[Full sample]
Q6. Public officials don't care much what people like me think.

Agree 58.5%
Neither agree nor disagree 12.0%
Disagree 27.7%
Don't know/Refused 1.8%

[Full sample]
Q7. Elected officials would make better decisions if they thought more deeply about what they think is right.

Agree 79.2%
Neither agree nor disagree 5.9%
Disagree 12.2%
Don't know/Refused 2.8%

[Full sample]
Q8. How much do you feel that having elections makes the government pay attention to what the people think-a good deal, some, or not much?

A good deal 30.0%
Some 40.5%
Not much 28.3%
Don't know/Refused 1.2%

[Half sample]
Q9. What is more important when you vote for Congress-how things are going in the country overall, or how things are going in your own district?

Country overall 59.1%
Own district 37.1%
Don't know/Refused 3.8%

[Full sample]
Q10. How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right-just about always, most of the time, or only some of the time?

Just about always 2.3%
Most of the time 17.1%
Only some of the time 73.0%
None of the time (volunteered) 6.9%
Don't know/Refused 0.8%

[Full sample]
Q11. What is your hunch: About what percentage of the time does Congress make decisions that are the same as the decisions that you [the majority of Americans] would make?

Mean 37.2%
Median 40.0%

[one-third heard variant wording, which produced no effect.]

Those who said "Don't know" were then asked "Do you think it is about half the more than half the time, or less than half the time?" Combined with those who gave a percentage, the distribution was:

  "you" "majority"
Less than half 55.0% 53.6%
Half 29.5% 26.1%
More than half 14.5% 18.1%

Q12. Would you say the government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves, or that it is run for the benefit of all the people?

A few big interests 74.5%
Benefit of all the people 18.5%
Don't know/Refused 7.0%

[Half sample]
Statement: I'm going to read you a set of arguments that some people have used when discussing the role of the public in government. For each one, I'd like you to tell me whether you find it convincing or unconvincing. [Arguments were presented in random order, alternating pros and cons; whether a pro or con came first was randomized.]

PRO ARGUMENTS

Q13. The government has become so bogged down in partisan conflict and so distorted by the influence of moneyed interests that it is necessary for the American public to have a stronger voice in shaping government decisions. Do you find this argument convincing or unconvincing

Convincing 80.2%
Unconvincing 17.8%
Don't know/Refused 2.0%

Q14. The principles of democracy are the cornerstone of the United States' form of government. Therefore, as a general rule, the government should be guided by the will of the majority when making decisions. Do you find this argument convincing or unconvincing?

Convincing 76.5%
Unconvincing 21.0%
Don't know/Refused 2.5%

Q15. Nobody knows what's best for the people better than the people. Paying attention to the views of the majority would probably lead to policies that are best for the country as a whole. Do you find this argument convincing or unconvincing?

Convincing 73.6%
Unconvincing 22.4%
Don't know/Refused 4.0%

CON ARGUMENTS

Q16. The public is emotional, volatile and uninformed. Therefore it is better for policymakers not to be very influenced by the public's wishes when making decisions. Do you find this argument convincing or unconvincing?

Convincing 19.9%
Unconvincing 77.0%
Don't Know/Refused 3.1%

Q17. Members of the government are well informed and are able to think through issues thoughtfully and objectively. Therefore, their judgments should count for more than the views of the public. Do you find this argument convincing or unconvincing?

Convincing 25.7%
Unconvincing 73.0%
Don't know/Refused 1.3%

Q18. While there are many problems in the way that the government works, increasing the influence of the public is not really going to help. There is really no reason to believe that the public is any better than the people in the government.

Convincing 26.5%
Unconvincing 69.7%
Don't know 3.8%

[Full sample]
Q19. Now I would like to ask you to consider how much influence the views of the majority of Americans do have on the decisions of elected officials in Washington. Please answer on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 meaning not at all influential and 10 meaning extremely influential.

Mean 4.6
Median 5.0

[Full sample]
Q20. Now, using the same scale, I would like to know how much influence you think the views of the majority of Americans should have on the decisions of elected officials in Washington.

Mean 8.4
Median 9.0

[Half sample hears Q21 through Q23 in random order]
Statement: Using the same scale, I would like you to rate three different parts of the government in terms of how much influence the views of the majority of Americans have on them.

Q21. How much would you say the majority's views influence the President?

Mean 5.0
Median 5.0

Q22. How much would you say the majority's views influence the Congress?

Mean 4.8
Median 5.0

Q23. How much would you say the majority's views influence your own member of Congress?

Mean 5.4
Median 5.0

[Half sample]
Q24. If the leaders of the nation followed the views of the public more closely, do you think the nation would be better off, or worse off than it is today?

Better 80.5%
Worse 9.5%
Don't know/Refused 10.0%

[Half sample]
Q25. Thinking about the average American, would you say you follow what's going on in government and public affairs more closely or less closely than the average American?

More closely than average 57.0%
Less closely than average 25.1%
About average (volunteered) 17.3%
Don't know 0.6%

[Half sample]
Q26. Compared to the average American, would you say you are more able or less able to make reasonable judgments about national issues?

More able than average 57.9%
Less able than average 20.0%
About average (volunteered) 17.4%
Don't know/Refused 4.8%

[Half sample]
Q27. I'm going to read two statements. Please tell me which statement you agree with most.

A. Members of Congress should not pay attention to polls that show their approval ratings, because this will just make them react to every little shift in their popularity

B. Members of Congress should pay attention to polls that show their approval rating, because this gives them a general measure of whether or not they are heading in the right direction with the public.

Statement A 33.8%
Statement B 61.2%
Neither (volunteered) 2.6%
Don't know 2.4%

[Half sample that did not hear Q27]
Q28. I'm going to read you two statements, please tell me which statement you agree with most.

A. When members of Congress are thinking about how to vote on an issue, they should read up on polls on the issue, because this can help them get a sense of the public's views on the issue.

B. When members of Congress are thinking about how to vote on an issue, they should not read up on polls, because this will distract them from thinking about what they think is right.

Statement A 67.2%
Statement B 26.3%
Neither (volunteered) 3.2%
Don't know/Refused 3.3%

[Half sample]
Q29. When you read about a poll how much confidence do you have that you can judge whether it was done in a fair and scientific manner-a great deal, a fair amount, not very much, or none at all?

A great deal 5.8%
A fair amount 50.4%
Not very much 29.8%
None at all 12.7%
Don't know 1.3%

[Full sample]
Q30. If you asked a nationwide scientifically selected sample of 1,000 Americans a poll question, what percentage of the time do you think that the results would be approximately the same as the results you would get if you asked all Americans the same question?

Mean 50.2%
Median 50.0%

[Full sample]
Q31. We'd like to know whom you think members of Congress should pay more attention to when they make a decision Here are two arguments on this issue. Please tell me which one you agree with more.

A. The member should pay more attention to the views of people in the district who write letters and call their member. Those who care more about the issue are better informed and are often the people most affected by the outcome.

B. The member should pay more attention to the views of the majority of the people in the district. It is a principle of democracy that the views of the majority should carry more weight

Statement A 43.1%
Statement B 53.7%
Don't know/Refused 3.1%

[Half sample hears Statement and Q32 Through Q35]

Statement: Imagine that a group of 500 American citizens was selected from all over the country to be representative of the entire US population. This group then met and were informed about all sides of the debate on a number of public policy issues and had a chance to discuss these issues. Then they were asked to make decisions on what they thought was the best approach to these issues.

Q32. Compared to Congress, do you think that the decisions of the majority of such a group would be more like the wishes of the majority of the public, or less like the wishes of the majority of the public, than the decisions that Congress makes?

More like majority 68.1%
Less like majority 24.6%
Neither more nor less (volunteered) 3.2%
Don't know/Refused 4.1%

Q33. Do you think that the decisions of the majority of such a group would probably be better or worse than the decisions that Congress makes?

Better 66.3%
Worse 15.0%
The same (volunteered) 8.0%
Don't Know 10.8%

Q34. Do you think this group would be more likely or less likely to come to a consensus than Congress?

More likely 56.6%
Less likely 31.2%
About the same 5.0%
Don't know/Refused 7.2%

Q35. Do you think this group would probably favor or oppose impeaching President Clinton and removing him from office?

Favor 27.4%
Oppose 59.6%
Don't know/Refused 13.0%

[Half sample]

Q36. Please tell me if you agree or disagree with the following statement: The goal of Congress should be to make the decisions that the majority of Americans would make if they had the information and time to think things over that Congress has.

Agree 85.4%
Disagree 12.0%
Don't know/Refused 2.5%

[Half sample that did not hear Q36]
Q37. What do you think is the more important question members of Congress should ask themselves when making decisions?

A. What does the majority of the public think is best?

B. What would the majority of the public probably think was best if it was well informed about all sides of the issue?

What does it think best? 29.3%
What would it think best? 65.1%
Neither (volunteered) 1.5%
Don't know/Refused 4.2%

[Half sample]
Q38. Is it your impression that the wealth in the US is becoming more equally distributed -or that the rich are getting an increasingly larger share?

More equally distributed 18.9%
Rich are getting a larger share 74.5%
Don't know/Refused 6.5%

[Half sample]
Q39. Over the last ten years would you say that, overall, corporations have gained influence or lost influence on the US government?

Gained influence 67.5%
Lost influence 23.9%
Stayed about the same (volunteered) 3.4%
Don't know 5.2%

[Half sample that did not hear Q39]
Q40. Over the last ten years would you say that, overall, the wealthy have gained influence or lost influence on the US government?

Gained influence 69.2%
Lost influence 22.1%
Stayed about the same (volunteered) 4.5%
Don't know/Refused 4.3%

[Half sample, one-quarter sample heard Q39 first and one-quarter sample heard Q40]

Q41. If the American public had more influence on US government policy, do you think that this would be probably have a positive effect or a negative effect on the economic position of people like you?

Positive effect 77.1%
Negative effect 14.8%
No effect (volunteered) 1.9%
Don't know/Refused 6.2%

[Half sample]
Q42. When your Representative in Congress votes on an issue, which should be more important-the way voters in your district feel about that issue, or the Representative's own principles and judgment about what is best for the country?

Way voters feel 68.5%
Principles and judgment 25.3%
Both equal (vol.) 4.0%
Don't know/Refused 2.2%

[Half sample that did not hear Q42]
Q43. If a member of Congress is involved in developing legislation on an issue and he finds that the majority of people in his district favor a course of action that is different from the one that he thinks is best, should he:

A. Do what he thinks is best, on the basis that he should not be swayed by external pressures.

B. Accept the will of the majority, on the basis of democratic principles.

C. Reevaluate his position and look for a new alternative, on the basis that there is probably something valid in the majority's position.

Statement A 19.1%
Statement B 23.1%
Statement C 54.8%
None of these (volunteered) 1.0%
Don't know/Refused 2.0%

[Half sample]
Q44. With which of the following statements do you most agree?

A. Democracy works best when each member of Congress votes in terms of what is best for his or her district. The process of majority rule will then produce the best outcome overall.

B. Each member of Congress should think about what the whole country's interests are and together with other members try to find a consensus about what is best for the country.

Statement A 31.5%
Statement B 66.5%
Neither (volunteered) 0.9%
Don't know/Refused 1.1%

[Half sample]
Q45. Do you think your own Representative in Congress is more interested in doing what's best for the country, or what's best for your congressional district?

What's best for the country 33.3%
What's best for your congressional district 47.8%
Neither (volunteered) 5.4%
Both (volunteered) 4.1%
It depends (volunteered) 0.8%
Don't know/Refused 8.5%

[Half sample]
Q46. Generally, do you think most members of Congress are more interested in doing what's best for the country, or what's best for their own congressional district?

What's best for the country 19.1%
What's best for their congressional district 71.4%
Neither (volunteered) 3.7%
Both (volunteered) 1.4%
It depends (volunteered) 1.0%
Don't know 3.4%

[Half sample]
Q47. Do you think your own representative in Congress should be more interested in doing what's best for the country, or what's best for your congressional district?

What's best for the country 52.2%
What's best for your congressional district 37.7%
Neither (volunteered) 0.1%
Both (volunteered) 8.2%
It depends (volunteered) 0.7%
Don't know/Refused 1.1%

[Full sample]
Q48. Statement: For each of the following two statements, please tell me whether you agree, disagree, or neither agree nor disagree. Here's the first one:

Sometimes politics and government seem so complicated that a person like me can't really understand what's going on.

Agree 61.4%
Neither agree nor disagree 7.3%
Disagree 30.8%
Don't know 0.5%

[Full sample]
Q49. People like me don't have any say about what the government does.

Agree 55.7%
Neither agree nor disagree 6.5%
Disagree 37.0%
Don't know/Refused 0.8%

[Three-quarter sample]
Q50. Which of the following would you regard as most likely to show the greatest wisdom on questions of what the government should do-the views of: the majority of Republicans, the majority of Democrats, or the majority of the public as a whole?

The majority of Republicans 9.0%
The majority of Democrats 9.3%
The majority of the public as a whole 76.5%
Don't know/Refused 5.3%

[One-quarter sample that did not hear Q50]
Q51. Which of the following would you prefer to have the most influence on the government-the views of: the majority of Republicans, the majority of Democrats, or the majority of the public as a whole?

The majority of Republicans 12.7%
The majority of Democrats 9.7%
The majority of the public as a whole 72.7%
Don't know/Refused 4.8%

Statement: Now on a slightly different subject, I'm going to ask you some questions about the proceedings currently going on in Washington, DC.

[Full sample]
Q52. Do you approve or disapprove of the House of Representatives voting to impeach President Clinton?

Approve 39.1%
Disapprove 56.8%
Don't know/Refused 4.1%

[Half sample]
Q53. Do you think that most members of the House of Representatives who voted in favor of impeachment were mainly trying to do what is best for the country, or do you think they were mainly motivated by some other reason?

Best for country 30.8%
Other reason 66.2%
Don't know/Refused 3.0%

[Half sample]
Q54. Throughout the Kenneth Starr investigation and the process leading to impeachment, do you feel that the government has behaved in a way that is consistent or not consistent with the wishes of the majority of the American public?

Consistent 22.8%
Not consistent 68.7%
Don't know/Refused 8.5%

[Half sample that did not hear Q54]
Q55. Do you think that the majority of Americans approved or disapproved of the House of Representatives impeaching President Clinton?

Approved 24.2%
Disapproved 67.4%
Don't know/Refused 8.3%

[Half sample]
Q56. Thinking about the Kenneth Starr investigation and the House of Representatives' decision to impeach the President, would you say that what you've heard has made you feel more likely to vote Democratic, more likely to vote Republican, or more likely not to vote at all?

More likely to vote Democratic 33.2%
More likely to vote Republican 22.5%
More likely not to vote at all 28.2%
No effect (volunteered) 12.8%
Don't know/Refused 3.4%

[Half sample]
Q57. Thinking about the Kenneth Starr investigation and the House of Representatives' decision to impeach the President would you say that what you've heard has made you feel more like paying attention to politics, or feel less like paying attention to politics?

More like paying attention 43.5%
Less like paying attention 43.3%
Made no difference (volunteered) 11.4%
Don't know 1.7%

[Three-quarter sample heard Q58 and Q59]
Q58. Do you think the Senate should or should not remove President Clinton from office?

Should 31.2%
Should not 63.2%
Don't know/Refused 5.6%

Q59. Do you think the majority of Americans favors or opposes removing President Clinton from office?

Favors 23.1%
Opposes 68.4%
Don't know/Refused 8.5%

[Half sample]
Q60. Thinking about how your Senators might vote, if one or both of your Senators votes to remove President Clinton from office, do you think this might have some influence on whether you vote for that Senator in the next election? Please tell me if this would make you a bit less likely to vote for that Senator, somewhat less likely, much less likely, or would it make you a bit more likely, somewhat more likely, or much more likely to vote for that Senator?

Much less likely 24.9%
Somewhat less likely 9.2%
A bit less likely 11.1%
A bit more likely 7.6%
Somewhat more likely 7.9%
Much more likely 17.5%
No effect (volunteered) 8.9%
Don't know/Refused 12.7%

[Full sample for Demographics section]
Q61. Some people seem to follow what's going on in government and public affairs most of the time, whether there's an election going on or not. Others aren't that interested. Would you say you follow what's going on in government and public affairs most of the time, some of the time, only now and then, or hardly at all?

Most of the time 46.6%
Some of the time 34.8%
Only now and then 13.2%
Hardly at all 5.0%
Don't know/Refused 0.3%

Q62. We hear a lot of talk these days about liberals and conservatives. Here is a 7-point scale on which the political views that people might hold are arranged: Extremely liberal, liberal, slightly liberal, moderate or middle of the road, slightly conservative, conservative, and extremely conservative. Where would you place yourself on this scale, or haven't you thought much about this?

Extremely liberal 1.6%
Liberal 6.5%
Slightly liberal 7.6%
Moderate or middle of the road 28.8%
Slightly conservative 14.9%
Conservative 16.1%
Extremely conservative 3.6%
Haven't thought about it 20.4%
Refused 0.6%

Q63. Are you a registered voter?

Yes 83.5%
No 16.2%
Don't know/Refused 0.3%

Q64. Did you vote for a candidate for President in the last election in 1996?

Yes 68.9%
No 30.3%
Don't know/Refused 0.8%

Q65. Have you ever contributed money or done volunteer work in support of a Presidential or Congressional candidate?

Yes 23.6%
No 75.8%
Don't know/Refused 0.6%

Q66. In politics today, do you think of yourself as:

Strongly Republican 12.8%
Leaning toward Republican 13.6%
Leaning toward Democrat 12.8%
Strongly Democrat 21.0%
Independent 33.2%
Other 1.8%
Don't know/Refused 4.8%

Q67. What is your age?

18 to 29 22.2%
30 to 45 32.4%
46 to 65 28.4%
Over 65 16.0%
Don't know/Refused 1.1%

Q68. What is the highest level of education that you have had?

Up through high school 18.0%
High school graduate 33.2%
Some college 26.1%
4 year college degree 15.1%
Advanced degree 6.9%
Don't know/Refused 0.7%

Q69. What is your ethnic affiliation?

White/Caucasian 76.7%
Black/ African American 9.3%
Hispanic/Latino 7.0%
Other 5.0%
Don't know/Refused 2.0%

Q70. Here is a range of household incomes. Just stop me when I read an amount that is more than the correct category for your household income for last year (1998).

$15,000 10.2%
$25,000 18.8%
$45,000 28.5%
$70,000 18.7%
$100,000 8.7%
More than $100,000 6.6%
Don't know/Refused 8.6%

Q71. Sex of respondent

Male 50.8%
Female 49.2%