Poll: Americans Support Bush Impeachment for Wiretapping
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New Zogby Poll Shows Majority of Americans Support Impeaching Bush for Wiretapping
By a margin of 52% to 43%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval, according to a new poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
The poll was conducted by Zogby International, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,216 U.S. adults from January 9-12.
The poll found that 52% agreed with the statement:
"If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."
43% disagreed, and 6% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 2.9% margin of error.
"The American people are not buying Bush's outrageous claim that he has the power to wiretap American citizens without a warrant. Americans believe terrorism can be fought without turning our own government into Big Brother," said AfterDowningStreet.org co-founder Bob Fertik.
Recently White House spokesman Scott McClellan cited a Rasmussen poll that found 64% believe the NSA "should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects." Of course, that is exactly what Congress authorized when it created the FISA courts to issue special expedited secret warrants for terrorism suspects. But Bush defied the FISA law and authorized warrantless wiretaps of Americans, which has outraged Americans to the point that a majority believe Congress should consider Bush's impeachment.
"Bush admits he ordered illegal warantless wiretapping, but says it began in response to 9/11 and was limited to a small number of calls to or from Al Qaeda," Fertik said. "But recent reports suggest wiretapping affected a much larger number of Americans, and a report in Friday's Truthout says the wiretapping began before 9/11."
"The upcoming Senate hearings on White House wiretapping could be as dramatic as the Watergate hearings in 1973. A majority of Americans have already believe Congress should look into grounds for impeachment, yet we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in the Corporate Media. If Bush ordered warrantless wiretapping long before the terrorist attack on 9/11, then Americans will realize that George Bush came into office determined to shred the Constitution and take away our rights," Fertik said.
Impeachment Supported by Majorities of Many Groups
Responses to the Zogby poll varied by political party affiliation: 66% of Democrats favored impeachment, as did 59% of Independents, and even 23% of Republicans. By ideology, impeachment was supported by Progressives (90%), Libertarians (71%), Liberals (65%), and Moderates (58%), but not by Conservatives (33%) or Very Conservatives (28%).
Responses also varied by age, sex, race, and religion. 74% of those 18-29 favored impeachment, 47% of those 31-49, 49% of those 50-64, and 40% of those over 65. 55% of women favored impeachment, compared to 49% of men. Among African Americans, 75% favored impeachment, as did 56% of Hispanics and 47% of whites. Majorities of Catholics, Jews, and Others favored impeachment, while 44% of Protestants and 38% of Born Again Christians did so.
Majorities favored impeachment in every region: the East (54%), South (53%) and West (52%), and Central states (50%). In large cities, 56% support impeachment; in small cities, 58%; in suburbs, 46%; in rural areas, 46%.
Support for Clinton Impeachment Was Much Lower
In August and September of 1998, 16 major polls asked about impeaching President Clinton (http://democrats.com/clinton-impeachment-polls). Only 36% supported hearings to consider impeachment, and only 26% supported actual impeachment and removal. Even so, the impeachment debate dominated the news for months, and the Republican Congress impeached Clinton despite overwhelming public opposition.
Passion for Impeachment is Major Unreported Story
The strong support for impeachment found in this poll is especially surprising because the views of impeachment supporters are entirely absent from the broadcast and print media, and can only be found on the Internet and in street protests. The lack of coverage of impeachment support is due in part to the fact that not a single Democrat in Congress has called for impeachment, despite considerable grassroots activism by groups like Democrats.com (http://democrats.com/impeach).
The passion of impeachment supporters is directly responsible for the four polls commissioned by After Downing Street. After the Zogby poll in June, activists led by Democrats.com urged all of the major polling organizations to include an impeachment question in their upcoming polls. But none of the polling organizations were willing to do so for free, so on September 30, AfterDowningStreet.org posted a request for donations to fund paid polls (http://afterdowningstreet.org/polling). People responded with small donations (on average $27) which quickly added up to over $10,000. After Downing Street has spent a portion of that money on the Ipsos Poll and the two Zogby Polls.
1. AfterDowningStreet.org is a rapidly growing coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups that was created on May 26, 2005, following the publication of the Downing Street Memo in London's Sunday Times on May 1. The coalition is urging Congress to begin a formal investigation into whether President Bush committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war.
2. The Ipsos Public Affairs poll and the new Zogby poll results cited above refer to surveys of U.S. adults. The June 2005 Zogby results are from a survey of likely voters. The new Zogby poll produced results for both adults and likely voters:
1/06 Zogby: Adults and Likely Voters
11/05 Zogby: Adults and Likely Voters.
10/05 Ipsos: Adults and definitions of regions.
6/05 Zogby: Likely Voters.
3. The original impeachment question was written by Zogby for their own poll in June 2005. (We tried to persuade them to repeat their question in their regular polls, but they refused - so we had to pay them to do it.) Subsequent questions, including this one, were written jointly by AfterDowningStreet.org and the pollsters. Obviously there are many ways to word polling questions, and wording has an effect on the results. (Joseph Cannon takes issue with the IF-THEN formulation.) The range of possible questions can be seen in the 1998 polls on impeaching President Clinton. That is why, in July 2005, we began asking the Corporate Media pollsters to conduct their own polls, using their own wording. We also support the efforts of MyDD's Chris Bowers to conduct an in-depth poll on impeachment, which should be completed soon. Personally, I think it's a waste of time to quibble over individual words in a poll for any number of reasons. The most important conclusions to draw from our poll are:
- Polls like the Pew poll and the Pentagon Post poll that purport to show that Americans approve of Bush's admittedly illegal wiretapping are far from conclusive - if not downright wrong - if they fail to make clear that the wiretapping was illegal. (If you don't think it was illegal, then you haven't read any of the in-depth legal analyses, including former CIA general counsel Jeffrey Smith and the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.) If I had more time, I would dissect the wording of the other polls to prove that the flaws in their wording are far greater than the flaws in our Zogby poll. See TomPaine's Conor Clark.
- As our series of polls has shown, a solid majority of Americans think Congress should consider impeaching Bush for one reason or another. I don't think we've even measured the full extent of impeachment support; I would love to run a poll that asked about all of the possible reasons - including Iraq, torture, Plamegate, New Orleans, the deficit, and global warming - but we don't have enough money. I hope Chris Bowers will cast a wide net on these questions.
- Since the wiretapping scandal broke in December, the number of Congressional leaders and commentators - both Democrats and Republicans - who are discussing impeachment has increased exponentially. This of course demolishes the excuse given by Gallup's Frank Newport (and seconded by the PentaPost's Richard Morin) last September: "We will certainly ask Americans about their views on impeaching George W. Bush if, and when, there is some discussion of that possibility by congressional leaders, and/or if commentators begin discussing it in the news media. That has not happened to date." It's time for the progressive blogosphere to join us in demanding impeachment polls by the Corporate Media.
- All of the heavily-hyped polls alleging Bush got a "bounce" after the Iraq elections were just White House propaganda. The 47% approval rating in the ABC/WP poll in December at the height of the "purple finger" media orgasm was a momentary sugar high; the polls that followed registered 41%, 43%, 40%, 38%, 41%, 43%, and 42%. These new polls are in the exact same range as all of the polls that followed Hurrican Katrina.
- If the upcoming hearings on the NSA wiretapping are conducted seriously (which is highly unlike with Arlen Specter in charge), they are certain to expose all of the White House excuses as just more lies. There could even be some dramatic and devastating testimony from whistleblowers like Russell Tice. These revelations will probably drive Bush's approval ratings down even further, and produce comparable increases in support for impeachment. Any thoughtful assessment of polling must recognize that polls change as facts and events change - and the facts and events of the next few weeks are certain to hurt Bush.