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A year after Clinton impeachment, public approval grows of House decision

By Keating Holland/CNN

December 16, 1999
Web posted at: 6:03 p.m. EST (2303 GMT)

Although only a third of the country supported Bill Clinton's impeachment by the House of Representatives last December, nearly half today approve of the House's decision to send Clinton's case to the Senate for a trial, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

That doesn't mean the public has turned against Clinton in the past year -- 57 percent approve of the Senate's decision to allow Clinton to remain in office. A majority also believe that Clinton should not be charged with a crime in a court of law after he leaves office.

Sunday is the one-year anniversary of Clinton's impeachment by the House of Representatives. The poll is based on interviews with 1,037 adult Americans conducted December 9-12.

Why the increase in support for impeachment but not for removal from office? One possible interpretation: a year ago, the public favored some form of punishment but did not want to see Clinton removed from office. Now, knowing that impeachment didn't lead to Clinton's ouster, more Americans support the House's decision because it was the only form of punishment Clinton suffered.

More evidence that the public still sides with Clinton rather than Congress: A majority believes that Congress was not fair and impartial in handling the inquiry into the charges against Clinton, and two-thirds believe that the impeachment process was harmful to the country.

House of Representative's Decision to Impeach Clinton
 ApproveDisapprove
Now 50%49%
December, 199835 63
Sampling error: +/-3% pts



Senate's Decision to Keep Clinton in Office
 ApproveDisapprove
Now 57%42%
February, 199964 34
Sampling error: +/-3% pts



Charging Clinton With a Crime After He Leaves Office
Approve35%
Disapprove 62%
Sampling error: +/-3% pts



Was Impeachment Process Harmful to Country?
Yes64%
No 35%
Sampling error: +/-3% pts



Was Congress Fair And Impartial?
Yes44%
No 52%
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

How does the public feel about Clinton a year after his impeachment? Just about the same way they did last December. Forty-six percent of the public has a positive view of Clinton as a person; 50 percent have a negative view. That's identical to the ratings he received a year ago.

Hillary Clinton has not fared as well. The number of Americans with a positive view of her as a person has dropped from 64 percent a year ago to 55 percent today, probably because more Americans see her as a political figure than as a sympathetic spouse. If given the chance to advise Hillary in her personal affairs, anly about a third say they would tell he to divorce Bill Clinton; 48 percent say they would advise her to stay in the marriage.

Opinion of Bill Clinton As a Person
 PositiveNegative
Now 46%50%
December, 199846% 50%
Sampling error: +/-3% pts



Opinion of Hillary Clinton As a Person
 PositiveNegative
Now 55%41%
December, 199864% 31%
Sampling error: +/-3% pts



Should Hillary Clinton Get a Divorce?
Yes35%
No 48%
Unsure17%
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

ELECTION 2000
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