Fifty-five percent of Connecticut residents said embattled Gov. John G. Rowland (search) should be impeached if found to have committed a criminal offense, while 39 percent said unethical behavior alone should be enough for impeachment, a poll released Monday found.

The University of Connecticut poll said 69 percent of residents said the Legislature should wait for the results from a federal probe of Rowland before voting on whether to impeach the three-term Republican governor.

The state constitution leaves it up to the House to determine what constitutes an impeachable act (search).

Rowland is under investigation by federal authorities for accepting gifts from state contractors, employees and friends for his Litchfield cottage and then lying about it. The governor has said the gift-givers were friends and he provided nothing in return.

The poll showed 61 percent said they would vote to impeach Rowland today if they could, up 7 percentage points from a UConn poll (search) conducted last month. Sixty-five percent said Rowland should resign from office.

"On the one hand, people want to get past this and so they are calling on the governor to resign," said poll director Ken Dautrich. "On the other hand, people want the impeachment process to be fair to Rowland. Fairness to the public includes defining an impeachable offense and letting the federal probe wrap up before a House impeachment vote."

Nearly three-quarters of those polled expressed confidence in a 10-member House committee appointed to investigate Rowland and recommend whether impeachment proceedings should begin.

The poll questioned 519 residents by telephone from Feb. 5 to 8. The poll has a sample error margin of about 4 percentage points.