The Public: Split on Presidential Censure

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Public: Split on Presidential Censure

As Democrats continue to duck and run from Sen. Feingold's censure resolution, the American Research Group has released this poll (taken March 15) of public attitudes on censure:
Do you favor or oppose the United States Senate passing a resolution censuring President George W. Bush for authorizing wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining court orders?

Favor 46%
Oppose 44%
Undecided 10%
It wins easily with Dems, but Republicans and independents both oppose it -- independents chose "oppose" by 5 points (47%-42%). But I'm actually a little surprised that roughly three out of 10 Republicans said they favor censure.

Although religious conservatives have tremendous leverage over the party, it's easy to forget that there is a segment of GOPers who think more like libertarians -- they hate it when government exercises power in virtually any realm.

One final observation: the poll's wording. I'm sure ARG's pollsters would have considered it too slanted to change the question to read "without obtaining court orders as required by law," but the question they used has problems too.

Whether or not the president violated FISA is the crux issue here. But because the phrasing of the poll question doesn't make it clear that the court orders are specifically required by federal law, many Americans may simply view this as a procedural dispute -- i.e., should the president have gone about it this way or that way?

If you buy Feingold's argument (and I, for one, do), then the president knowingly violated federal law.

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