Poll: After Clinton, Public Trusts Politicians Less

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - An opinion poll released Wednesday by The Institute For Global Ethics shows eight out of ten American voters believe attack-oriented campaigning is unethical - and that after Bill Clinton's impeachment, voters trust their elected officials less.

Rush Kidder, President of the Institute For Global Ethics, told a Washington news conference Wednesday that the bipartisan survey of 800 likely voters showed "94 percent of the public feels strongly about electing politicians who are honest and fair, rather than people who get the best results for the public."

The survey also found 53 percent of those surveyed think campaign "values and ethics" have gotten worse in the last 20 years, with 27 percent saying they have gotten much worse.

Other key poll findings were:

\li720\fi-360\'b7\tab 67 percent say they can trust the government in Washington only some of the time or never.

\li720\fi-360\'b7\tab 72 percent are very concerned about candidates saying one thing in campaigns and doing another when elected. 59 percent think all or most candidates deliberately twist the truth.

\li720\fi-360\'b7\tab 39 percent believe all or most candidates deliberately lie to voters, while 42percent think some candidates lie.

\li720\fi-360\'b7\tab 43 percent believe most or all candidates deliberately make unfair personal attacks on their opponents, while another 45 percent think some do.

\li720\fi-360\'b7\tab 62 percent said a non-partisan code of conduct for campaigns is a good idea.

\li720\fi-360\'b7\tab 72 percent said they would have more respect for a candidate who signed a campaign code of conduct.

"They're also telling us that if there are codes and they are violated, I will as a voter do what I can to punish that candidate. If there are codes and they are upheld, I will do what I can to reward the candidate," Kidder said.

However, Kidder told CNSNews.com that this survey and a previous survey that was taken on voter attitudes revealed a "Clinton effect".

"We did a survey in Ohio and Washington state in 1998. In a couple of areas what we're finding is some real distinct double digit differences, between what people said then and what they said now. One area had to do with politicians lying and 'therefore I lose faith in them.' There's much more willingness to say yes, I agree with that now, then there was 18 months ago."

Another area, Kidder said, dealt with "a body of questions about cynicism: All politicians lie but that doesn't bother me because that's what I expect. Most people reject that. But there are fewer people now by quite a large number that reject it, than rejected it 18 months ago. I take that to be a disturbing trend toward cynicism. The public is disappointed but not cynical, but there is a movement there, that's concerning us."

Kidder also told CNSNews.com, the public is fed up with the notion that "you can say whatever you want that the best way forward is to attack the other person mercilessly. That's the way to win and all of that. The public is saying 'no,' that's not the thing that matters."

Americans are also concerned about "fairly visible failures of ethics" being practiced at the top levels of government, according to Kidder.