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Nearly 90 Percent Say Illinois, Chicago Government Is Corrupt

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Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich walks through a hoard of media toward his house before giving a news conference outside his home March 14, 2012, a day before reporting to prison. (Photo by Frank Polich/Getty Images)

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich walks through a hoard of media toward his house before giving a news conference outside his home March 14, 2012, a day before reporting to prison. (Photo by Frank Polich/Getty Images)

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By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — Nearly 90 percent of Illinois voters believe that corruption is typical in state government, according to a new poll.

More than half of Illinois voters believe state government corruption is very common.

When the poll accounts for the people who say that corruption is somewhat common in the state, a whopping 89 percent feel corruption is a way of life in the Land Of Lincoln.

The federal government didn’t fare much better, with 45 percent saying corruption is very common.

The poll was conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

In Illinois, four of the past seven governors have been sentenced to prison, most recently Rod Blagojevich and, before him, George Ryan.

Chicago, the voters said, is equally corrupt. A total of 85 percent of those living in Chicago believe county or city political corruption is at least somewhat common, with 55 percent perceiving local corruption
to be very common.

Over the past 30 years, scores of county and city officials have been sent to prison for a variety of schemes. Plus, some congressmen, too–such as Dan Rostenkowski and Jesse Jackson Jr.

“These are sad numbers,” said David Yepsen, Director of the Institute.

“No wonder many people don’t vote and participation in civic affairs seems limited. It’s unhealthy for a society to have such little confidence in the integrity of government. It makes Illinois an unattractive place to live.”

Ryan Ceresola, a first-year PhD student in sociology researching these issues for the poll, said, “If individuals think corruption is common, it raises the question of whether individuals actually think corruption has an impact on their daily lives.”

The answer is many people do:

A total of 60 percent of respondents report that state or federal corruption has a good amount or quite a bit of an impact on their daily lives.

Also, 60 percent of people living in Chicago perceive county or city corruption to have a good amount or quite a bit of an impact on their daily lives.

The 2014 Simon Poll interviewed 1,001 registered voters across Illinois. It has a margin for error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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