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Release: Immediate

(NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: A full copy of the poll results, including graphs, charts and background information, is available by calling University News Services at (319) 384-0011. Professor Arthur Miller can be reached at (319) 335-2328 or at home at (319) 338-3373.)

UI Heartland Poll finds energized Democratic voters, no call for impeachment in Midwest

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Despite fears that President Clinton's personal scandal would demoralize Democratic voters in the upcoming mid-term elections, the 1998 Heartland Poll from the University of Iowa shows that Democratic voters in the Midwest are more highly energized than their Republican counterparts. In addition, among registered voters, 54.3 percent indicated that they are likely to vote Democratic in their local House of Representatives races. Among those who are "very likely" to vote, 52.9 percent said they would vote Democratic.

The Heartland Poll is conducted in election years by the Iowa Social Science Institute at the UI. Arthur Miller, director of the Institute and a UI professor of political science, said that although a majority of voters question Clinton's morality, that is not enough to diminish people's perceptions of his overall job performance.

While mid-term elections typically are a reflection of the level of support for the president's party, Miller said this year's election would be based as much on opinions of the Republican Party as the Democratic Party. Miller noted that historically, the party of the sitting president loses 20 seats in the House in a mid-term election.

"If the Republicans fail to pick up at least those 20 seats, it will clearly be because this strategy of pursuing an attack on Clinton's morality has simply backfired," Miller said.

The poll shows that Clinton's popularity throughout the Midwest has decreased from 54 percent approval in 1994 to 37 percent approval in 1998. Despite the drop in his popularity, Clinton's overall job approval ratings have risen from 49.2 percent in 1994 to 67.3 percent in 1998.

The poll predicts that Clinton's personal problems will not adversely affect Midwestern Democrats running for office.

"Although people rate Clinton negatively based on morality, that's not what counts when people go to the polls," Miller said.

The poll indicates that a large majority of Midwesterners oppose removing Clinton from office because they see the Clinton/Lewinsky matter as a private affair and because they view the Starr investigation and impeachment proceedings as motivated by partisan politics.

Despite this feeling, 77 percent of Midwesterners believe that America and the American people have been hurt by the Clinton scandal and most respondents to the Heartland Poll believe that Clinton was responsible for the damage. Although they blame Clinton for the humiliation that his actions have brought to the whole country, 60 percent of Midwesterners still feel that he can be an effective president for the remainder of his term.

Miller created the Heartland Poll in 1988 as a unique political opinion poll to gather data from Iowans and residents of six surrounding states. This year's poll compares evaluations of current political sentiments in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and the region as a whole. It is the first Midwest regional survey extensively examining public reaction to the Clinton/Lewinsky affair and impeachment proceedings.

This year's Heartland Poll is based on interviews conducted from October 5-19 with 825 respondents. The average interview lasted 24 minutes and the poll had a 74.7 percent cooperation rate. The margin of error is +/- 3.4 percent.