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New Yorkers, who gave President Clinton one of his strongest re-election victories among the states in 1996, appear to be standing strongly behind him in his battles with Congress over the Monica Lewinsky affair, a new poll shows.

While nearly 60 percent of New Yorkers feel Clinton does not share their moral values for what most Americans should live by, 68 percent said it would be better for the country if he were allowed to finish his term, according to a poll of 1,170 registered voters conducted by Quinnipiac College.

Eighty-eight percent of Democrats want Clinton to stay in office, and even 41 percent of Republicans in New York don't think he should resign, the poll by the Connecticut college found. Sixty-nine percent of men and 68 percent of women want him to stay. The poll was taken from Sept. 16 to 22.

Though down slightly from last March, 67 percent of New Yorkers still approved of the way Clinton is handling his job.

"New York voters seem smarter than Washington politicians in distinguishing between President Clinton and Bill Clinton. They approve of the president, but they don't like the man," said Quinnipiac polling director Maurice Carroll.

As for congressional attempts to force Clinton from office, only 20 percent of New Yorkers want him impeached; 42 percent of Republicans feel impeachment is the way to go, while only 5 percent of Democrats want him ousted. Instead, 34 percent say he should be censured by Congress, while 41 percent say the whole matter should just be dropped.

The poll also found it potentially dangerous for other politicians to attack Clinton. Thirty-seven percent said they would be less likely to vote against a congressional or U.S. Senate candidate if they call for Clinton's impeachment. Fifty percent said it wouldn't affect their vote.

In his 1996 re-election campaign, Clinton won 59 percent of New York's vote, compared to 31 percent for Republican Bob Dole.

Nationally, a Pew Research Center poll of 1,206 people taken from Saturday through Tuesday indicated 39 percent of Americans believe the president should be impeached and removed from office if he lied under oath. A separate question indicated 30 percent of Americans believe it would be better if he resigned.

The poll was taken in two parts, before and after the broadcast of Clinton's videotaped testimony before the grand jury, and reflected that the sentiment for his ouster was a bit lower after the tape was released. The overall margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The pollsters say the group reflects mostly the well-to-do, well-educated, white and Republican.

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