NEW YORK – While fewer than one-in-four of California Rep. Gary Condit's constituents say they believe he was involved in the disappearance of intern Chandra Levy, about half have already decided they would not vote for him if he were to run for re-election.
In a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll of Condit's congressional district, 22 percent of voters say they think Condit was involved with Levy's mysterious vanishing and 45 percent say he didn't have anything to do with it. These percentages are a mirror image of a national FOX News Poll taken last week (41 percent said Condit was involved compared to 18 percent that said he wasn't).
When the question is phrased in a different way, the numbers increase to 38 percent thinking it is "likely" that Condit was involved (14 percent "very likely" and 24 percent "somewhat likely").
While opinion of Condit as a person is slightly more negative than positive (36 percent favorable to 40 percent unfavorable), 57 percent approve of the job he's doing as their representative. In the most recent election Condit, a Democrat, received 67 percent of the vote in a district that Republican candidate George W. Bush carried by nine points over his Democratic opponent Vice President Al Gore.
"In many ways the numbers on Condit are similar to what we saw with Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "He clearly has done the job his constituents want him to do and that buys him some leeway. However, people have seen a personal side of him that they can’t like or respect, and that has lead to a split. They’re going to give him the benefit of the doubt until all the evidence is in, but even if he’s totally acquitted of any crimes they’re not going to want a person like him around any more."
A majority (63 percent) of the district's constituents say they would like to hear from their congressman on the Levy matter, and 69 percent think he should take a lie detector test administered by the police department.
Here are some additional highlights from the poll:
• 40 percent think the relationship breakup between Condit and Levy is related to her disappearance, 25 percent think it is a coincidence the two events happened at the same time.
• Opinion is divided on whether the congressman is being treated fairly by the media (44 percent fair, 47 percent unfair), but a strong majority believes the DC police have treated Condit fairly (70 percent to 12 percent unfairly).
• Over half (53 percent) say Condit has not done everything possible to help find Chandra.
• What should Condit do? Twenty-five percent think Condit should resign, 26 percent think he should stay in office until the end of his term and run for re-election, and 24 percent think he should stay in office but not run again.
Polling was conducted by telephone July 17-18, 2001 in the evenings. The sample is 700 registered voters in California's 18th Congressional District with a margin of error of ± 3.5 percentage points.
I'm going to read the names of some political figures. 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. Gary Condit
2. George W. Bush
3. Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?
4. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Gary Condit is doing as Congressman?
5. If Representative Condit runs for re-election, do you think you will vote for him, or not?
Congressman Gary Condit recently admitted to having a romantic relationship with the Washington intern Chandra Levy who has been missing since April 30
6. From what you've heard or read, do you think Gary Condit had anything to do with Levy's disappearance?
SCALE: 1. Yes, he did have something to do with it, 2. No, he didn’t have anything to do with it, 3. (Not sure)
7. Do you think Gary Condit is telling everything that he knows about Chandra Levy’s disappearance?
Scale: 1. Yes, he is, 2. No, he isn’t, 3. (Not sure)
8. Mr. Condit told police he broke off the relationship with Levy a few days before her disappearance. Do you think the breakup and Chandra’s disappearance happening within a few days of each other is a coincidence, or do you think the two events are related?
9. How likely do you think it is that Gary Condit was involved in the disappearance of Chandra Levy? [READ]
10. Do you think we will ever know what happened to Chandra Levy?
SCALE: 1. Yes, we will, 2. No, we won’t, 3. (Not sure)
11. Which of the following do you think is most likely to be the answer to the Chandra Levy case?
12. What do you think Representative Condit SHOULD do: [READ 1-3 ONLY]
13. What do you think Representative Condit WILL do: [READ 1-3 ONLY]
14. Do you think the media have treated Representative Condit fairly or unfairly?
15. What about the DC police — have they treated Representative Condit fairly or unfairly?
16. Do you think Representative Condit has done everything possible to help police find Chandra Levy?
17. Representative Condit took a private lie detector test that was arranged by his attorney. Are you satisfied with him taking this private lie detector test, or do you think he should take a lie detector test administered by the police as well?
18. Would you like Representative Condit to make an official statement to you and his other constituents about the Levy case?