I stumbled across this article in the Los Angeles Times about the attitudes of voters about charges of corruption in Ohio. Although the article feels a bit like the reporter was searching for the conclusion that voters don’t really care about corruption, some of the quotations are quite interesting:
“He’s always been there for the steel mill workers,” said Robyn Durante, a clerk at a flower shop. “I don’t think he could ever be voted out of office, because Bob is always there for the people of the valley.”
Jeannie Goletz, a bookkeeper at the shop, says she chooses not to read the stories about Ney because she does not want to believe they are true. She says the good things Ney has done for the district should outweigh the negatives, whatever they are.
“People here still talk fondly of Jim Traficant. Virtually all of the positives of downtown Youngstown are due to Traficant,” said Paul Sracic, a professor of political science at Youngstown State University.
“In Ohio, people think of their member of Congress as someone who should bring home the bacon. As long as you’re doing that, you’ll be doing well,” Sracic said.
Aside from learning that Jeannie Goletz is the ideal Republican voter, the quotations do perhaps reveal something interesting about voters. I think partisans (myself included) often assume that the public will respond very negatively to stories about corruption by members of Congress, but often those things don’t seem to matter. Personality, perception of support for the state, and advertising may have a more powerful impact. Is it because the public just assumes that all politicians are corrupt? A lack of media attention?
Whatever the case, it’ll be interesting to see how accountable the Abramoff Congress will be held by the public.