A short, three question AP/Ipsos public opinion poll (pdf):
How serious a problem is political corruption in the United States today? Would you say
Very serious -- 51
Somewhat serious -- 37
Not too serious -- 8
Not at all serious -- 3
Not sure -- 1
Total Serious -- 88
Total Not Serious -- 11
How widespread do you think corruption is in public service in America? Would you say
Hardly anyone is involved -- 1
A small number of people are involved -- 20
A moderate number of people are involved -- 39
A lot of people are involved -- 28
Almost everyone is involved -- 10
Not sure -- 2
Total Hardly Anyone/A Small Number -- 21
Total A Lot/Almost Everyone -- 38
In general, which elected officials would you say are more ETHICAL?
Democrats -- 36
Republicans -- 33
Both equally -- 10
Neither is ethical -- 15
Not sure -- 6
For three questions, this poll sure says a lot:
The coverage of the scandals in the papers, on TV and radio newscasts, and on the web have shifted public opinion dramatically. Almost nine in ten believe corruption is a somewhat or very serious problem. Think about that figure as you're walking down the street, or riding on the train, or attending a football game.
The public is clearly concerned about the scope of the problem -- almost 2 in 5 believe almost everyone or a lot of those in public office are involved in corruption. Not just a few, or a handful. And not just Congress, but "corruption in public service." These are Nigerian numbers. (My apologies to Nigeria.)
The congressional Democrats' strategy of blasting the GOP's "culture of cronyism and corruption" hasn't improved what voters think of Democrats. They haven't rallied around any proactive agenda, and none of their leading spokespeople spend much time talking about what to do about the corruption (except for throwing out Republicans, which isn't a reform agenda).
To sum it up, there is a big opportunity for someone -- probably the Democrats -- to seize this issue and be on the side of the voters. Employing this issue for partisan gain -- the GOP culture of blah blah blah -- doesn't win any support. The party or the candidates who figure out that Americans want these big problems addressed with common sense, but similarly big solutions, will get a wind at their back.
(Tip on polling results to MyDD.)