The Polls: The Public's Response to the Clinton Scandals, Part 2: Diverse Explanations, Clearer Consequences


  • Stanley A. Renshon

    1. Professor of political science at the City University of New York and a certified psychoanalyst. His book on the Clinton presidency, High Hopes, won the Richard E. Neustadt Award for the best book published on the presidency and the 1988 Gradiva Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis for the best published work in the category of biography. He will be a senior fellow at the Center for Public Leadership, Harvard University in the fall of 2002.
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  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: This paper builds on introductory remarks in Renshon (1998). I would like to thank the journal's three anonymous referees for this essay and especially Professor Jeff Cohen for his helpful comments.


The public's response to the Clinton administration's many scandals and the president's impeachment is both puzzling and contradictory. They supported the president, but not his behavior; they wanted him severely reprimanded, but not punished; and they wanted him to remain in office, but were happy to see him leave. In this, the second article of a two-part series (the first of which was published in the March 2002 issue of this journal), the author addresses the explanations of why Mr. Clinton survived that are more directly causal than contextual and closes by noting some continuing consequences of the Clinton scandals and the public's reaction to them.