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WTOP Beltway Poll: Half in region see widespread abuse in federal gov’t

The Secret Service has been tarnished by a prostitution scandal that erupted April 13, 2012 in Colombia involving 12 Secret Service agents, officers and supervisors and 12 more enlisted military personnel ahead of President Barack Obama\'s visit there for the Summit of the Americas. (AP)

WASHINGTON – Alleged scandals among Secret Service Agents and at the General Services Agency haven’t tarnished the region’s view of the federal government, according to a new WTOP Beltway Poll, though a majority believes it has a culture of mismanagement.

Fifty-five percent of respondents believe there is widespread abuse in the federal government, according to the poll conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies between May 11 and May 18. Two-thirds of those polled, however, say their view of federal workers hasn’t been further dampened by headlines of Secret Service agents soliciting prostitutes while on duty in Colombia or lavish spending at a General Services Administration conference in Las Vegas.

Thirty-nine percent say the recent scandals were isolated incidents, while 35 percent now view federal workers less favorably.

The Obama administration is not blamed for the scandals by the large majority of those polled. Eighty-four percent say these kinds of scandals could happen under any president.

Indeed, a growing number of people believe the country is moving in the right direction, and respondents are now split on the issue. Forty-eight percent say the country is moving in the right direction, and 48 percent say the wrong direction.

Those figures show a big change since last September when 63 percent polled said the country was on the wrong track and only 32 percent said it was on the right track.

The “right direction” numbers have risen steadily since then though there was a slight 2 percent decrease in May.

The margin of error on this poll is 4.17 percent.

Editor’s Note: The D.C. metro phone survey was conducted among 550 adults age 18 and over, between May 11-18, 2012. This included representative samples of 200 people in Virginia (Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford), 250 in Maryland (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George’s) and 100 in the District. Heart+Mind Strategies is a non-partisan market research consultancy based in Reston, Va.

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WTOP’s Hank Silverberg contributed to this report. Follow Hank and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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