Lambro used months-old polling data to claim "parity" in congressional ethics scandals

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

In his Washington Times column, Donald Lambro repeated the oft-debunked claim that Democrats received money from Jack Abramoff and used months-old polling data to claim that a "plurality" of Americans view congressional ethics scandals as affecting both Democrats and Republicans equally. In fact, more recent polling indicates that the public views ethics scandals as more of a Republican problem than a bipartisan issue.

In his May 25 "Commentary" column, Washington Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro wrote that "the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal seems almost tame compared to what is emerging on Democratic turf," and used polling data from February and March to claim that a "plurality" of Americans view congressional ethics scandals as affecting both Democrats and Republicans equally. In fact, more recent polling indicates that the public views ethics scandals as more of a Republican problem than a bipartisan issue.

Lambro cited a February 9 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and a March 10-13 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll to back up his claim that a "plurality" of Americans see corruption as bipartisan. However, Lambro ignored a more recent CBS News/New York Times poll, conducted May 4-8, that asked respondents: "Do you think the Republicans in Congress are more financially corrupt, or are the Democrats in Congress more financially corrupt?" According to the poll, 40 percent of respondents considered Republicans more corrupt (an eight-point increase from April), while 30 percent considered both parties equally corrupt (a seven-point decrease). Fifteen percent found Democrats more corrupt -- an increase of 2 percent since April.

Lambro also repeated the oft-debunked claim that Democrats received contributions directly from Abramoff. Only Republicans have received contributions from Abramoff, while Democrats and Republicans have received contributions from Abramoff's clients.

From Lambro's May 25 column, titled "Scandal Parity":

Republicans have taken their lumps, especially from the fallout of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, California Republican, who is headed to prison for a bribery scheme with a defense contractor. However, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal seems almost tame compared to what is emerging on Democratic turf. Both Democrats and Republicans received campaign contributions from Abramoff, his associates and Indian tribes he represented. And it still isn't clear any of the payments were illegal.

[...]

But now the spotlight is shining on two Democratic scandals that Republican strategists believe will help turn the political tide in their favor.

"What the Democrats clearly tried to do at the beginning of the year was to shape this as a purely Republican problem. That effort was completely undercut by what happened to Mollohan and Jefferson," Republican pollster David Winston told me. "The majority of voters do not identify the corruption story with a single party," he said. "They still see it as a problem in both parties."

A Pew poll in February found a 34 percent plurality blamed "both parties equally." An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in March had Democrats trusted more on ethics than Republicans by 25 percent to 19 percent, but nearly 30 percent said they were "both about the same" on honesty and ethics.

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