Friday, December 5, 2008

New Rasmussen Poll Concerning Pardons

46% Say Congress Should Be Able To Override Presidential Pardons
Friday, December 05, 2008
Forty-six percent (46%) of U.S. voters say Congress should be able to overturn presidential pardons it thinks are unjustified, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Thirty-seven percent (37%) believe Congress should not have that power, and 18% are undecided.
Fifty-two percent (52%) of female voters say Congress should be able to override pardons they don’t approve of, compared to 39% of male voters. Forty-six percent (46%) of men believe Congress should not have that power, but only 28% of women agree.
Most likely reflecting the current situation where a Republican president is granting pardons while Democrats control Congress, 58% of Democrats think Congress should have the power to overturn pardons, compared to 40% of GOP voters. Forty-six percent (46%) of Republicans say Congress should not be able to do so versus just 25% of Democrats. A plurality of unaffiliated voters by six points think Congress should not have the power to override the president.
Catholics and Evangelical Christians both give the edge to Congress, while other Protestants are evenly divided on the question.
Fifty-three percent (53%) of African-American voters think Congress should be able to overturn pardons, compared to 44% of whites.
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The end of presidential administrations historically are a time when presidents issue pardons. President Bush granted more than a dozen pardons right before Thanksgiving and is sure to announce more before he leaves office in January. Unlike the pardons of several of his predecessors, most recently President Clinton, Bush’s have not raised any criticism thus far.
The most famous pardon is President Gerald Ford’s of his immediate predecessor, Richard Nixon, in 1974.
Fourteen percent (14%) of voters say Bush’s pardons will be more justified than those of previous presidents, while 22% say they will be less justified. Fifty-four percent (54%) believe they will be about the same as those of his predecessors. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.
Eighteen percent (18%) of men say Bush’s pardons will be more justified, but just 10% of women agree.
Twenty-two percent (22%) of Republicans feel that way, compared to 14% of unaffiliated voters and six percent (6%) of Democrats. Thirty-six percent (36%) of Democratic voters think Bush’s pardons will be less justified, a view shared by only 11% of Republicans and 14% of unafilliateds.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat, has asked Bush to commute the prison sentence of George Ryan, the former Illinois Republican governor who was convicted in 2006 on federal corruption charges, but 66% of the state’s voters oppose a pardon for Ryan.
President-elect Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder, who served in the Justice Department at the time, is likely to face questioning from Congress about his involvement in Clinton’s pardon of financier Marc Rich in 2001 under questionable circumstances.
Voters aren’t too concerned about the Holder nomination, announced on Monday, however. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Approval Index now gives Obama a +28 rating, matching his highest level yet.
For the most part voters appear to have confidence in the time-honored practice of presidential pardons. Fifty-eight percent (58%) say a good case is most important when seeking a pardon. Just 21% say political connections are most important, and 14% put the emphasis on a good attorney. Seven percent (7%) aren’t sure.
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