Impeachment Polling Largely Steady After Hearings
After two weeks of hearings, public opinion has not moved very much on the impeachment of the President.
Two new polls appear to show that two weeks of public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee have done little to move the needle on public opinion when it comes to impeachment, but that doesn’t mean the Trump Administration should be rejoicing. However, it does send a cautionary tale for Democrats who are pushing forward with impeachment without seeming to attempt to build a consensus on the appropriate grounds for impeachment before pushing forward with what amounts to a Constitutional nuclear option.
First up, there’s a new poll from CNN:
After five days of public hearings in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, public opinion over whether the President ought to be impeached and removed from office remains exactly the same as it was in October, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.
Half of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, 43% say he should not. Neither figure has changed since October, with support for impeachment remaining at its highest level thus far in CNN polling. The partisan divide over the President persists as well, with roughly 80 points between Democratic support for Trump’s removal and Republican support for it.
Independents are closely divided on the question, 47% in favor, 45% opposed. Opinions on both sides are deeply held, with about 9 in 10 on either side saying they feel strongly in favor or against it.
The President’s approval rating has also held about even since October: 42% say they approve, 54% disapprove.
Although views on impeachment and removal have not moved, the poll finds that 53% say Trump improperly used his office to gain political advantage, up from 49% who said the same in October. More, 56%, say the President’s efforts to get Ukraine to launch investigations into the Biden family, a Ukrainian energy company and the 2016 election were more to benefit himself politically than to fight Ukrainian corruption.
The public is about evenly divided over whether there is enough evidence now for the House to vote to impeach the President and send him to trial before the Senate (48% say yes, 47% say no). And a narrow majority (52%) say the Democrats have exercised their constitutional powers properly during the impeachment inquiry, 40% say they have abused their constitutional powers.
A third of Americans say the Republicans in Congress are doing too much to defend Trump (33%), while 17% say they are doing too little and 41% say they’re doing the right amount to defend Trump. Among Republicans, 64% call the effort about right and 24% say they’re not going far enough to defend the President.
About 4 in 10 say they are following the proceedings “very closely,” and among that group, support for impeachment and removal (53% say yes, 46% say no) is a bit higher than it is overall. This more-attentive group is also more likely to say that there is enough evidence now for the House to vote to send the case to trial before the Senate (52% say yes, 48% no). But they are no more likely than the overall public to believe that Trump improperly used his office (52%) or pushed Ukraine to launch investigations in order to benefit himself politically (54%).
Even as overall numbers on impeachment and presidential approval hold steady, the poll suggests a growing gender gap, with women increasingly negative in their assessment of Trump. There is now a 20-point difference between men and women on Trump’s overall approval rating (52% of men approve vs. 32% of women), the fifth time the divide has been that large in CNN’s polling during Trump’s presidency.
And the poll marks the first time that more than 60% of women have said they backed impeaching Trump and removing him from office (61% say so now, compared with 56% in October and 51% in May), even as a majority of men remain opposed to impeachment (53% oppose it).
Despite three days of explosive testimony in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump last week, none of the revelations appear to have moved the needle much when it comes to swaying voters, according to the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll out Tuesday.
In the survey, one of the first to measure public support for the inquiry following the conclusion of public hearings last week, voters backed the investigation by a 5-point margin, 48 percent to 43 percent, compared with a 3-point margin the week before. While the percentage of voters who supported the inquiry remained unchanged, opposition to the inquiry dipped by 2 points.
While it’s surely good news for Democrats that they still have the backing of a plurality of voters for their inquiry, voters remain divided, and the poll shows no groundswell of new support despite a rash of damaging revelations. And though the survey found that public impeachment hearings seemingly failed to generate a crush of new support for the inquiry, its findings are a far cry from the president’s claim on Monday that support for impeachment “is dropping like a rock, down into the 20’s in some Polls.”
Still, not only does the country remain divided over impeachment, but both parties also appear to have dug in on their positions: The probe is backed by 81 percent of Democrats, and opposed by 81 percent of Republicans.
“Republicans remain steadfast in their support for President Trump amid a slew of damaging testimonies in the impeachment probe,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president. “Our polling shows Republicans overwhelmingly disapprove of impeachment, while over 8 in 10 approve of the job Trump is doing as president. This has remained steady throughout the process.”
Democrats do appear, however, to have stanched a bleeding of independent backing for the inquiry. Support for the inquiry among independents increased 4 points over the past week — to 44 percent from 40 percent — while opposition dropped by 8 points — to 39 percent from 47 percent.
What’s more, half of voters support the House impeaching Trump, compared with 41 percent who oppose it, with roughly the same percentage backing the Senate removing Trump from office. Last week, 48 percent supported and 44 percent opposed impeachment by the House, and voters backed Senate removal by a 47-42 percent margin.
While Republicans are citing these numbers as good news for the President given the fact that they are largely consistent with what we were seeing in the polls prior to the beginning of hearings, that optimistic spin on the numbers does not appear to be warranted by the facts. Yes, it’s true that all the revelations from two weeks worth of hearings have not turned public opinion as a whole further against the President. The main reason for that, though, is the fact that Republicans remain steadfastly loyal to the President and effectively unwilling to even take a glance at the evidence against him. These same post-hearing polls show that Democrats are even more strongly in support of impeachment and removal than they were before the process, which of course one of the reasons that Democrats are likely to continue moving forward with this process regardless of the polls.
Additionally, as I highlighted above, the new polling indicates that several important demographic subgroups. First, a plurality of self-identified independents in both polls support impeachment and removal, numbers that have increased significantly from both earlier in the year when the Ukraine scandal was not even on the radar and in September and October when it was first starting to develop. The second significant group is women, both married and unmarried, where the numbers now show that a significant majority support both impeachment and removal. This is significant because women voters played a large role in the Democratic victories in 2018 and in places such as Virginia, Kentucky, and Louisiana earlier this month. All of this suggests that, while the impeachment process may not result in the President’s removal from office it may damage him politically even if he is ultimately “acquitted” in the Senate.
Another important factor that ought to concern the Administration is the fact that public opinion in favor of both impeachment and removal is at the levels it is at this early in the process. During the Watergate hearings, it took until virtually the end of the process for the public to turn against the President in the manner that this polling indicates it already has among all groups except Republicans. This suggests that, contrary to the claims of some Republican pundits, the Democrats are not too far ahead of public opinion in moving forward. Whether they’re able to bring voters the rest of the way remains to be seen.
There are also some warning signs in these polls for Democrats who are pushing ahead with impeachment before Christmas that will lead to a trial in the Senate in January. The fact that two weeks of hearings that included clear evidence that the President was holding military aid and diplomatic progress with Ukraine hostage in exchange for Ukrainians cooperation in investigating a political rival and chasing down evidence for a debunked and Kremlin-inspired conspiracy theory regarding the 2016 election Part of the reason for that appears to be that there’s a significant portion of the public that is just tuning the process out at this point. One poll, for example, shows that only four in ten respondents said that they followed this month’s hearings closely, Because of this it would be helpful for Democrats if they could neatly summarize what the hearings have uncovered and explains it in a way that the public will understand. Perhaps that will come next month with the start of the House Judiciary Committee. Of course, that process will be competing for public attention with the upcoming holidays and other developments, so there’s no way of telling what will happen.