Last Thursday, Judicial Watch released the results of a new nationwide survey of registered voters conducted in partnership with Harris Interactive. It concerns the American people’s attitudes on a variety of subjects, including government corruption, Obamacare, congressional insider trading, transparency, illegal immigration, and the Republican primary campaign. This is something we do on an annual basis and every year we get some very interesting results. This year was no different.
Here are some quick takeaways: Registered voters consider corruption to be a major problem, support illegal alien law enforcement, and believe President Obama has failed to keep his campaign promise to make government more transparent to the American people. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has significant national Republican support, nearly doubling the total of his closest rival, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Registered voters are evenly split on whether the Supreme Court should uphold Obamacare.
The Judicial Watch survey was conducted by Harris Interactive January 12-15, 2012. (Full survey results, including crosstabs, are available here.) The following are the highlights:
- REPUBLICAN NOMINATION: Republican and Republican leaning registered voters favor Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (32%) over the rest of the Republican field by double digits. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich finishes second (17%). Ron Paul earns 14% support, with Rick Santorum garnering 10%.
- GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION: The vast majority of registered voters (88%) believe corruption is a significant problem in Washington. More registered voters (45%) believe one of the Republican candidates would be more effective than Obama (34%) in addressing political corruption, with Ron Paul seen as the Republican best able to combat government corruption.When asked generally which party was trusted more to combat government corruption, Republicans fared poorly in the poll. Only 30% thought Republicans could be trusted more versus 37% trusting Democrats more. A large number (33%) said neither/not sure.
- TRANSPARENCY: The vast majority of registered voters (69%) believe President Obama has either worsened (27%) or not improved (42%) government transparency as he promised during the 2008 presidential campaign. Only slightly more than half of registered Democrats believe Obama has improved transparency.
- ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: The majority of registered voters (53%) want more emphasis on law enforcement when addressing illegal immigration while only a small percentage (9%) want less. Meanwhile, three out of four registered voters (74%), including a majority of Hispanics (57%), believe local law enforcement officers should help enforce illegal immigration laws. A majority of registered voters (64%) disagree with illegal alien sanctuary policies, including a slight majority of Hispanics (51%). Poll respondents are evenly split on the President’s illegal immigration policies, with 42% disagreeing and 40% agreeing with the administration’s approach. (56% of Hispanic’s support the President’s policies).
- OBAMACARE: Registered voters are nearly evenly split on whether or not Obamacare is constitutional and should be upheld by the Supreme Court. 44% think the law is constitutional and 43% think the law is unconstitutional, though self-identified independent voters think the law is unconstitutional by a margin of 47%-40%. In response to a question about the ongoing debate about whether Justice Elena Kagan should participate in the Supreme Court’s review of Obamacare, 37% (including one in four Democrats) oppose her participation and 34% support her participation. A significant number (28%) don’t know whether she should participate.
- CONGRESSIONAL INSIDER TRADING: The vast majority of Americans (86%) believe insider trading laws should be enforced against members of Congress.
Let the results of this poll be a lesson for all politicians. Voters want to clean up corruption in Washington. The survey also represents a clear warning for Barack Obama who has fallen short on his campaign promise to make government more open and transparent in the minds of the majority of voters.
And Republicans should be worried that few Americans trust them to combat government corruption. While the public is evenly split on key issues such as Obamacare, they remain unified in support for more and better law enforcement in the area of illegal immigration.
I would expect in the coming months that both parties, recognizing the importance of corruption as a political issue, will pay lip service to the crisis. But what matters is what happens after the elections are over. Unfortunately, there is a mile wide gap between campaign rhetoric on corruption and the on-the-ground reality inside the halls of Congress and the White House.
I thought it interesting that the first official commercial of the Obama campaign highlights the President’s supposed ethics record. Without getting into a debate about the accuracy of the ad, this shows that at least the Obama campaign has the instinct to highlight the issue of government corruption as important to the American people.
(A note on the survey’s methodology: This study was conducted January 12-15, 2012, by Harris Interactive via telephone landline and cell phone on behalf of Judicial Watch. The survey was conducted among a nationwide cross-section of 871 Registered Voters; 686 interviews were from the landline sample and 185 interviews from the cell phone sample. The sampling error is +/-3.5 percent.)