Poll finds few captivated by Washington lobbyist scandal


WASHINGTON (AP) Washington politicians have been loudly proclaiming their innocence and blaming others in the corruption scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But most people around the country aren't paying very close attention, a poll found.


Fewer than one in five Americans, 18%, say they are paying very close attention to the scandal around Abramoff, who pleaded guilty and is cooperating in a wide-ranging probe that could involve up to 20 members of Congress and their aides, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.


Another 20% said they were watching it "fairly closely" and roughly 60% said they were not paying much attention.


Almost half, 47%, paying very close attention to the mining tragedy in West Virginia and another 33%, were watching it fairly closely.


About four in 10 are following the situation in Iraq very closely and about a third are following the news of domestic wiretaps very closely.


Another Washington story, the confirmation hearings for Judge Samuel Alito to be on the Supreme Court, was also drawing limited attention: 14% were watching it very closely and another 23% fairly closely, the poll found.


The limited public attention paid to the corruption scandal could make it difficult for Democrats to gain much advantage with their accusations that Republican congressional leaders are corrupting the government. The poll found Democrats have a slight advantage over Republicans on which party governs honestly and ethically but that hasn't changed much since Pew polling in early October.


Most people, 81%, felt that reports of lobbyists bribing members of Congress are not isolated incidents, but are an example of behavior that is fairly common in the nation's capital.


The Pew poll of 1,503 adults was taken Jan. 4-8 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



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