Many Americans believe that Enron-like mismanagement is common at other U.S. companies, and a sizeable majority thinks the energy company's bankruptcy has damaged the national economy.

Results from the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll show that 69 percent of Americans think the mismanagement and financial deception that took place at Enron is common at other companies.

Women, Democrats, and young people are the most likely groups to think this type of mismanagement is common elsewhere. Overall, less than 10 percent of Americans think the behavior that brought about Enron's collapse is rare.

Over one-third of the public think the energy giant's demise has hurt the country's economy a lot, 34 percent think it hurt the economy some, and 14 percent a little. Less than five percent think the Enron situation has not damaged the nation's economy at all.

"The 1990s were marked by a growing belief in businesses’ ‘Choice and Competition’ mantra. Energy deregulation was a centerpiece of the move toward a more competitive climate," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Even if the Enron hearings don’t lead to a rollback in any of that deregulation, attempts to advance further deregulation in any industry are going to be met with one word — Enron — and most likely are going to face popular and legislative opposition."

More Americans blame Enron's troubles on the company's own executives (44 percent) than put it on the shoulders of its auditor Arthur Andersen (7 percent) or on federal watchdog agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (8 percent). One quarter of the public think all three groups share the blame. Republicans are more likely than other groups to blame Enron (52 percent), while Democrats are the most likely to blame government oversight agencies (10 percent).

Both parties share the blame in the public's mind for giving special treatment in return for political campaign contributions. Over half of Americans (57 percent) think it is likely the Bush Administration gave Enron favors for contributions, and 60 percent think the Clinton Administration also gave Enron favorable treatment in exchange for donations. This may explain why fully 70 percent say they feel strongly about the need for campaign finance reform. Even so, Americans are divided on whether corporations should be banned from making political campaign contributions (41 percent favor and 43 percent oppose banning corporate contributions).

At recent congressional hearings investigating Enron's financial dealings, many executives cited the Fifth Amendment and declined to testify. While half of Americans think when someone takes the Fifth the person is guilty, over one third (36 percent) think it simply means the person is exercising his or her right not to make statements that could be used as evidence against them in future trials.

Overall, the country has a negative impression of former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay (41 percent unfavorable to 5 percent favorable); however, over half of the public has no opinion or has never heard of him. Lay's negative numbers almost match those of the American Taliban John Walker Lindh (45 percent unfavorable, 4 percent favorable, 51 percent can't say/never heard).

Things look so dismal for Enron executives that 20 percent think they are more likely to be looking for a "secure, undisclosed location to hide" than the Taliban, and 24 percent think both the Taliban and Enron execs are in equal need of a hiding place. It can be only a small comfort that the plurality (38 percent) thinks the Taliban are more likely to need a place to hide.

Polling was conducted by telephone February 12-13, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

I'm going to read the names of some people and organizations. Please tell me whether you have a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion of each one. If you've never heard of someone, please just say so.
SCALE: 1. Favorable 2. Unfavorable 3. (Can't say) 4. (Never heard of) (ROTATE)

1. George Bush

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never Heard
12-13 Feb 02 81% 13 6 -
30-31 Jan 02 75% 17 8 -
12-13 Dec 01 84% 12 4 -
14-15 Nov 01 83% 12 5 -
19-20 Sep 01 79% 13 8 -
22-23 Aug 01 56% 36 8 -

2. Bill Clinton

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never Heard
12-13 Feb 02 45% 47 7 1
12-13 Dec 01 42% 50 8 -
25-26 Jul 01 42% 51 7 -
18-19 Apr 01 40% 54 6 -
28-29 Mar 01 41% 52 7 -
14-15 Mar 01 40% 54 6 -

 

3. Kenneth Lay

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Feb 02 5% 41 16 38

4. John Walker Lindh

  Favorable Unfavorable Can't say Never heard
12-13 Feb 02 4% 45 16 35

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?

  Approve Disapprove (DK)
12-13 Feb 02 81% 11 8
30-31 Jan 02 81% 12 7
9-10 Jan 02 83% 10 7
12-13 Dec 01 86% 8 6
28-29 Nov 01 86% 6 8
14-15 Nov 01 88% 7 5

6. Do you think Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are currently:

1. Working together productively, or 39%
2. Working against each other unproductively? 34
3. (Both) 11
4. (Neither) 3
5. (Not sure) 13

7. Right now, would you say one political party is more responsible than the other for blocking passage of needed legislation?

1. (Yes, Democrats are blocking legislation) 20%
2. (Yes, Republicans are blocking legislation) 9
3. (No, both responsible) 44
4. (Not sure) 27

8. Who do you think is being more obstructionist in the U.S. Senate right now — (Senator Daschle and the Democrats) or (Senator Lott and the Republicans)? ROTATE

1. Daschle and the Democrats 30%
2. Lott and the Republicans 22
3. (Neither/Both) 16
4. (Not sure) 32

9. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens from being forced to make statements that could be used as evidence against them in trials. When someone cites his or her Fifth Amendment right in refusing to testify, do you generally think:

1. The person is probably guilty, or 50%
2. The person is simply exercising a right? 36
3. (Not sure) 14

10. How common do you think the kind of mismanagement and financial deception that took place at Enron is at other U.S. companies? Do you think that kind of mismanagement is very common, somewhat common, not very common, or is it rare?

1. Very common 28%
2. Somewhat common 41
3. Not very common 15
4. Rare 9
5. (Not sure) 7

11. How much do you think the collapse of Enron has hurt the national economy?

1. A lot 37%
2. Some 34
3. A little 14
4. Not at all 4
5. (Not sure) 11

12. Who do you blame most for the collapse of Enron -- Enron executives, Arthur Andersen auditors or government oversight agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission?

1. Enron executives 44%
2. Arthur Andersen auditors 7
3. Government oversight agencies like the SEC 8
4. (Combination) 26
5. (None) 1
6. (Not sure) 14

13. How strongly do you personally feel about the need for campaign finance reform?

  12-13 Feb 02 29-30 Oct 97
1. Very strongly 47% 44%
2. Somewhat strongly 23 24
3. Not too strongly 11 13
4. Not strongly at all 10 11
5. (Not sure) 9 8

14. Do you favor or oppose banning all corporations from making political campaign contributions?

1. Favor banning corporate contributions 41%
2. Oppose banning corporate contributions 43
3. (Not sure) 16

15. How likely do you think it is that the Bush Administration gave Enron favorable treatment in return for campaign contributions?

1. Very likely 28%
2. Somewhat likely 29
3. Not very likely 13
4. Not at all likely 11
5. (Not sure) 19

16. How likely do you think it is that while Bill Clinton was president, his administration gave Enron favorable treatment in return for campaign contributions?

1. Very likely 32%
2. Somewhat likely 28
3. Not very likely 9
4. Not at all likely 6
5. (Not sure) 25

17. Who do you think is more likely to be in search of a secure, undisclosed location to hide — (members of the Taliban) or (Enron executives)? ROTATE

1. Taliban soldiers 38%
2. Enron executives 20
3. (Both) 24
4. (Not sure) 18

18. Which couple do you think will have a happier Valentine's Day – (George and Laura Bush) or (Bill and Hillary Clinton)? ROTATE

1. George and Laura Bush 73%
2. Bill and Hillary Clinton 12
3. (Same) 5
4. (Not sure) 10