Most Americans Oppose Impeachment But Also Don’t Believe Trump

A new poll finds that most Americans do not support impeaching the President at this time, but they also don't believe the President on the issues of Russian interference and obstruction.

One of the first polls on the subject of impeachment and the impact of the Mueller report finds that most Americans oppose impeachment of the President at this time, but they also believe that President Trump lied to the American people about both the issues of Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged efforts to obstruct inquiries into this issue:

A majority of Americans say they don’t support impeaching President Trump in light of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible Russian collusion and whether the White House obstructed subsequent investigations, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll.

About 37 percent of Americans polled favored starting impeachment proceedings in Congress, a slight drop from last month, while 56 percent oppose efforts to oust the president.

The results fell largely along partisan lines, with 62 percent of Democratic respondents supporting impeachment while 87 percent of Republican respondents said they opposed the prospect. About 59 percent of independents said they opposed impeachment, an increase from the poll’s results in January that highlights the potential danger Democrats face if they begin impeachment proceedings.

The poll comes as House Democrats wrestle with how to respond to Mueller’s findings, which did not exonerate Trump over allegations of obstruction of justice and cited 10 “episodes” of possible obstructive behavior. Mueller decided there was not enough evidence of coordination between Trump campaign officials and Russia to bring charges related to collusion.

Though Mueller received the support of a majority (51 percent) of respondents who said his probe was “fair and even-handed,” his report drew divided reactions from the public. 

About 53 percent of those polled said the report did not clear the president, 47 percent said Trump tried to obstruct Mueller’s probe and 58 percent said they believed that Trump lied about matters that were under investigation, a majority (58 percent) said Mueller’s findings did not change their opinion of the president and a plurality (46 percent) said the report will not play a factor in their decision in whether to support Trump in 2020.

Trump’s approval rating in the new poll sits at 39 percent, a statistically marginal nudge from the 37 percent support he garnered in January.
While Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and party leadership have sought to quiet talk of impeachment, instead opting to emphasize ongoing investigations run by several House committees, calls for removing Trump persist from progressive members of the House and presidential contenders Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). 

Dan Balz at The Washington Post has more to say about the poll:

A majority of Americans say they oppose calls for Congress to launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump in the wake of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the president sought to interfere with the probe, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Thirty-seven percent of Americans favor starting the process that could lead to impeachment, a slight dip over the past month, while 56 percent say they oppose the idea, about the same as a month ago.

House Democrats are grappling with the question of how to proceed in light of Mueller’s findings and the public release of the redacted report, which detailed multiple examples of potential obstruction of justice.

The new survey highlights the dilemma faced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other leaders in her caucus: While party leaders have sought to tamp down impeachment talk, worried that engaging in such a process would backfire in the 2020 election, their political base supports it.

Roughly 6 in 10 Democrats say they support the initiation of such an investigation in the House, with 53 percent saying they hold that view strongly. Meanwhile, nearly 9 in 10 Republicans oppose impeachment, with 78 percent strongly opposed.

About 6 in 10 independents are against impeachment now, and independents are more opposed today than they were when measured in a January poll — a sign of the potential political danger for Democrats as they seek to win back key centrist voters in their goal of beating Trump next year.

House Democratic leaders have said they will pursue various investigations, including possible obstruction of justice by the president, although they have so far stopped short of embracing the idea of impeachment. Some Democratic presidential candidates say the Mueller report justifies pursuing such proceedings, however, and are urging House leaders to move ahead.

This essentially is the dilemma that House Democrats are faced with at this point. While the Mueller report did not find direct evidence of collusion or obstruction on the part of the Trump campaign or the Trump Administration, there are enough questions left unanswered by what has been made public to warrant further investigation by the appropriate committees in the House and the Senate. In addition to the issues raised by 2016 election interference, Trump’s tenure in office also has brought forward issues regarding possible violations of the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution that are currently the subject of litigation in Washington D.C., New York, and Maryland, allegations that the President conspired to bribe two women he had affairs with to remain silent in advance of the election, and issues regarding irregularities at The Trump Organization and The Trump Foundation currently being investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Whether these matters ultimately leads to impeachment hearings and the drafting of Articles of Impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee remains to be seen, but it’s clear that these matters need to be further investigated at the very least.

The problem that Democrats face is that while there is tremendous pressure from their base to proceed forward with the goal of ultimately impeaching the President if the evidence justifies it, it is clear that the rest of the country has not reached this point. Not only do a majority of Republicans oppose impeachment, but the same goes for a majority of self-identified Independents. Proceeding forward with impeachment, therefore, poses real risks for Democrats, but so does not going forward due to the importance the base appears to place on this issue.

A final fact to take into consideration here, of course, is the fact that any effort by the House to impeach the President is likely to be unsuccessful. Even if a majority of the House ends up supporting Articles of Impeachment and we proceed forward with a trial in the Senate, it is obvious that there will not be the two-thirds majority required to convict and remove the President from office. Indeed. any such effort is likely to fall short of that number by an even wider margin than the 1998 Clinton impeachment and certainly short of the one-vote margin that saved Andrew Johnson’s Presidency at the end of the 1860s. If you know that the effort is going to fail, then there’s a real question of why the Democrats should bother even trying given how close we are to the 2020 election.

It seems to me that the better strategy for Democrats right now is to proceed forward with investigations into the matters discussed above and to do so in as public a manner as possible. Let all the information that can come out be made public unless it is classified. Let the American people decide at the next election what they want to do with that information. This seems like an even wiser strategy given the fact that it is unlikely that any investigations in the House will be completed until we’re nearly on the eve of the 2020 election. At that point, the question will be whether to proceed with impeachment or take the strategy I have laid out here and let the people decide. Unless the evidence against the President is overwhelming, it seems to me that the decision should lean heavily in favor of putting this matter to the test at the ballot box rather than attempting an impeachment and removal that will not succeed and which could end up energizing Trump and his base when the President is ultimately acquitted in the Senate.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    The results fell largely along partisan lines, with 62 percent of Democratic respondents supporting impeachment while 87 percent of Republican respondents said they opposed the prospect. About 59 percent of independents said they opposed impeachment, an increase from the poll’s results in January that highlights the potential danger Democrats face if they begin impeachment proceedings.

    I’m not sure Republicans should get a vote here. They have been transparently putting party ahead of country for the entirety of the Trump administration, and they aren’t real Americans. I’m sure the majority of the Manson family was opposed to prosecuting Charles Manson back in the day.

    The independents will come around as the process gets underway.

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  2. Kathy says:

    It seems to me that the better strategy for Democrats right now is to proceed forward with investigations into the matters discussed above and to do so in as public a manner as possible.

    That’s exactly what they should do. In fact, it’s what happened in Watergate as well. There was a special prosecutor, but Congress also ran investigations on the matter. And these were largely televised live.

    The difference this time around, was that Congress lay down like a terrified rat, rather than seriously investigate Trump. Not that I expect a GOP-dominated body to seriously investigate one of their own, but, really, that’s just a major point against them.

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  3. @Kathy:

    The main difference now is that we’re much closer to a Presidential election than we were when the Watergate investigation began. Had Democrats waited Nixon would have been able to serve out the entirety of his eight years in office, or nearly so.

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  4. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    That’s so, but only because for the first two years of Dennison’s what passes for an administration, the GOP-controlled Congress lay submissively with its throat exposed.

    Nixon didn’t have that, and investigations on Watergate began much sooner. Remember the Watergate burglary broke during the 72 campaign.

    So we won’t get the Cheeto out of the White House by impeachment. No matter. An honest investigation into the myriad dark areas he doesn’t want people to look at, ought to be enough to weaken him politically. Oversight is not a matter only for impeachment, after all.

    And, who knows, maybe Congress can set the basis for prosecution once Trump’s out of office. Let him Tweet maniacally after he’s powerless. It would be fun.

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  5. dennis says:

    Polls are b.s. because they didn’t ask the rest of us a damn thing. If you think I’m wrong, look at the 2016 election. The outcome of that was b.s., too.

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  6. Gustopher says:

    @dennis: The polls in 2016 were pretty much dead on. The interpretation of the polls sucked.

    National polls showed Clinton with a lead, which was reflected by her final popular vote lead.

    Battleground state polls showed a right race, generally with a Clinton lead in the margin of error. (And that margin of error only has a 95% certainty).

    The number of undecided voters was large throughout the campaign, larger than the distance between the candidates.

    A good interpretation of that is “shrug, dunno, maybe Clinton?”

    Silver at 538 was estimating a 2/3rds chance of a Clinton win, which means a 1/3 chance of a Trump win. Which matches “shrug, dunno, maybe Clinton?” And which means that a Trump victory should not have been a shock.

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  7. Joe says:

    I think more interesting than the impeachment question will be the public reaction and – to a lesser extent the Congressional reaction – to Trump stonewalling Congressional investigations. Democrats should frame every request/subpoena in terms of how the refusal to respond will play in 2020. If Dems look like they are “harassing” poor Mr. Trump, these will not play well, but if Trump comes off as hiding everything about his administration and the Repubs are complacent or complicit, it could help Dems up and down the ticket.

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  8. Stormy Dragon says:

    While not surprised, the large number of people who think he obstructed the investigation but that he shouldn’t be punished for it reflect very poorly on us as a society. It basically means we’re a Hobbesian war of all against all and people are okay with that.

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  9. An Interested Party says:

    While not surprised, the large number of people who think he obstructed the investigation but that he shouldn’t be punished for it reflect very poorly on us as a society.

    The fact that he was elected president in the first place reflects very poorly on us as a society…

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  10. Teve says:

    The Mueller Report Was My Tipping Point

    I was a Trump transition staffer, and I’ve seen enough. It’s time for impeachment.

    APR 23, 2019
    J. W. Verret
    Professor of law at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/gop-staffer-advocates-trumps-impeachment/587785/

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  11. DrDaveT says:

    I don’t want to see Trump impeached, because President Mike Pence scares me even more than President* Donald Trump.

    I would love, though, to see a censure and vote of no confidence from both chambers. Preferably with language about the President* being a not-particularly-competent small-time crook and con man who probably isn’t worth more than a few million at best.

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  12. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve: I’m afraid I came away from that one thinking that here’s a fascist plutocrat who is concerned that Trump’s personal foibles are getting in the way of implementing the fascist plutocrat agenda. It’s hard to crank up much sympathy for his position; this is a man who thinks President Mike Pence would be a great idea…

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  13. al Ameda says:

    Let’s stipulate that by the Lindsey Graham Standard ( the Mueller Report calls out numerous instances where Trump intended to obstruct justice) – there is a sufficient basis from which the House can further investigate and approve articles of impeachment.

    Well, pretty soon Democrats are going to face a moment of spine and reckoning. If the Administration continues to defy these House subpoenas Democrats are going to have to take up impeachment, whether Party leadership likes it or not. There are still some who believe it (taking impeachment seriously and necessary) would only serve to energize the Trump base and the Senate will not convict. If leadership lets all of this slide because they fear Trump and his base, then they do not deserve the support of the people who turned out in the mid-terms to flip the House.

    Impeachment would serve 3 purposes: (1) make the Republican base only marginally more angry, victimized and conspiratorially minded than they are now, (2) serve to keep the energy, momentum, and prospective turnout at the high levels necessary to defeat Trump

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