Politicians love polls. Most of them won't move a muscle unless a trusted pollster tells them it's safe. But here's a poll the State Capitol crowd won't know what to do with. A citizen survey released today by the self-described "free market think tank" Wisconsin Policy Research Institute found that only 6% of Wisconsin residents believe their elected officials represent the interests of their constituents on important issues.
Most believe public officials are just looking out for themselves or doing the bidding of special interests, the poll found. WPRI said the "most stunning number" was that the survey found no African Americans believe their elected officials put constituents' interests first.
State residents also believe their elected representatives have lowered their ethical standards and that ethics in government is getting worse, the survey shows. WPRI's report says the "widespread feeling that the institutions in Madison were deteriorating ethically produced the highest negative numbers we have seen in our polling going back to 1991."
The report goes on to say there are "no demographic groups in Wisconsin who believe the ethics in Madison have improved over the last decade. One of the major problems, looking at the total results, is that our elected officials and citizens are moving further apart. Wisconsin residents seem to have much less confidence in their elected officials and are questioning the ethics of their government institutions. These downward trends are not good for Wisconsin government. Unfortunately, Wisconsin citizens are clearly saying that they think lobbyists have much more influence than they do, and that is negatively affecting the ethics in state government."