01/11/2006 - The public has been hardly stirred by the flurry of major Washington news in the early days of 2006. Jack Abramoff's admission that he bribed members of Congress has sparked little interest, with just 18% paying very close attention to news reports on the disgraced Washington lobbyist. An overwhelming majority of Americans (81%) say that lobbyists bribing lawmakers is common behavior in Congress, compared with just 11% who see it as isolated incidents.
In turn, there has been little political fallout from the disclosures. Ratings for Republican and Democratic congressional leaders remain low, and neither party has gained or lost ground as being better able to manage the federal government or to govern honestly and ethically.
Reports about President Bush authorizing wiretaps of Americans suspected of having ties to terrorists has drawn far more attention than the Abramoff case. But there is not an outcry or even consensus opinion about the government's monitoring, without court permission, the phone and email communications of Americans suspected of having terrorist ties; 48% feel this is generally right while about the same number (47%) think it is generally wrong. Public attitudes on this issue are highly partisan, with 69% of Republicans saying the government actions are generally right and nearly as many Democrats (62%) saying they are generally wrong.
This national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 4-8, 2006, among 1,503 adults, finds that the public paid scant attention to the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in the days leading up to Senate confirmation hearings on Alito. Just 14% followed reports on the nomination very closely; by comparison, more than triple that number (47%) tracked the recent news of the deaths of 12 miners in West Virginia very closely. On balance, more Americans support Alito's confirmation than oppose it (by 33% to 19%), though nearly half (48%) decline to offer an opinion.