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Thursday, October 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 42.0° F  Fair
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What we think

A recent survey of Dane County residents by students at Edgewood College got a smattering of media attention, almost all over a survey question about a proposed Regional Transit Authority. (Support was surprisingly high, at 65%, prompting Vicki McKenna's head to burst into flames.)

But the survey of 262 randomly sampled county residents (margin of error: 5.5% to 6%), conducted in early November, contained an array of interesting findings.

For instance, roughly half the folks in these parts feel the U.S. should withdraw its troops from Iraq within six months, and only 18% want them there "as long as it takes." Two-thirds say holding terror suspects without due process represented "too great a threat to civil liberties."

Less than a third consider the current U.S. economy to be very or moderately healthy. Only about a quarter think it will improve during the next two years, while 39% expect it will get slightly or much worse.

The area's most popular politician is Sen. Russ Feingold, with a whopping 71% of respondents rating his performance as "good" or "excellent." The least popular is George W. Bush, with 15% rating him as "good" or "excellent" and 62% deeming him "poor."

Gov. Jim Doyle nearly did as badly as Bush in the tiny percentage of respondents who rank him "excellent" - 5.5%, compared to 4%. But only 12% consider Doyle's performance "poor." And Doyle joins Sen. Herb Kohl, Rep. Tammy Baldwin and County Exec Kathleen Falk and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz in having between 51% and 58% of respondents who consider them "good" or "excellent."

The biggest loser was the legislative branch. Only 16% of respondents think the state Legislature is doing a "good" job, and apparently no one thinks it's "excellent." For Congress, the combined "good" and "excellent" ratings totaled 12.5%.

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