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USA Today: Poll: USA fed up with political incivility


April 22, 2010- Americans are fed up with incivility in politics.

A new study by the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College finds that Americans overwhelmingly say civility is important to democracy and possible to achieve, even when people disagree.

Most don't see those qualities at work in Washington. More than two-thirds in a poll taken for the study said Americans "should be ashamed of the way elected officials acted" during the recent health care debate. Half said the tone of politics has declined since President Obama was elected; just 10% said it has improved.

More than three in four agreed with the statement: "Right now, Washington is broken."

"Americans believe in civility … and in compromise; they believe in middle-ground solutions," says Daniel Shea, who directs the center at Allegheny College, in Meadville, Pa. "Those are two issues that Americans believe are not well-reflected in the media — in talk radio, television programs, the Internet."

Those surveyed were split over whether it was more important for a politician to be willing to stand firm in support of principles or be able to compromise to get things done.

When asked about seven specific issues, however, solid majorities said elected officials should find compromise solutions on all but one of them, abortion. About two-thirds thought compromises should be found on immigration and climate change legislation, two of the most contentious issues now being debated.

There were significant differences by ideology, however. Liberals by 59%-36% favored the ability to compromise. Conservatives' views were a reverse of that: By 60%-34%, they preferred a willingness to stand firm.

The survey of 1,000 people by Zogby International, taken March 24-30, has a margin of error of +/—3.2 percentage points.

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