Poll Shows Majority Support For Impeachment Inquiry
Public opinion on impeachment has shifted rapidly to the point where a majority of Americans support an impeachment inquiry and support for removal is growing as well.
For the better part of the year, as we’ve awaited the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and potential collusion and thereafter, the American public had largely opposed the impeachment of the President or even opening an impeachment investigation. With the exception of self-identified Democrats, most Americans apparently did not believe that there was sufficient evidence to support taking such an extraordinary Constitutional step.
That began to change after the news broke regarding the President’s efforts to enlist the assistance of the President of Ukraine to uncover damaging information about a potential political rival and the events that have occurred since then that have only made the President look worse. As I noted a week ago, a number of polls that had previously shown public opposition to impeachment began to show that at least a plurality of respondents supported opening an impeachment inquiry. Now, a new Washington Post/Schar School poll shows for the first time that a majority of Americans support not just impeachment but, if the evidence supports it, removal of the President from office:
A majority of Americans say they endorse the decision by House Democrats to begin an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, and nearly half of all adults also say the House should take the additional step and recommend that the president be removed from office, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.
The findings indicate that public opinion has shifted quickly against the president and in favor of impeachment proceedings in recent weeks as information has been released about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian government officials to undertake an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden, a potential 2020 campaign rival, and Biden’s son Hunter.
Previous Post-Schar School or Post-ABC News polls taken at different points throughout this year found majorities of Americans opposing the start of an impeachment proceeding, with 37 percent to 41 percent saying they favored such a step. The recent revelations appear to have prompted many Americans to rethink their position.
The poll finds that, by a margin of 58 percent to 38 percent, Americans say the House was correct to undertake the inquiry. Among all adults, 49 percent say the House should take the more significant step to impeach the president and call for his removal from office. Another 6 percent say they back the start of the inquiry but do not favor removing Trump from office, with the remainder undecided about the president’s ultimate fate. The results among registered voters are almost identical.
Not surprisingly, there are stark partisan differences but the number of Republicans that have moved in the direction of supporting at least an impeachment inquiry is worth noting:
More than 8 in 10 Democrats endorse the inquiry and nearly 8 in 10 favor a vote to recommend that Trump be removed from office. Among Republicans, roughly 7 in 10 do not support the inquiry but almost 3 in 10 do, and almost one-fifth of Republicans say they favor a vote recommending his removal. Among the critical voting bloc of independents, support for the impeachment inquiry hits 57 percent, with 49 percent saying the House should vote to remove Trump from office.
Since a July poll by The Post and ABC, there has been movement toward an impeachment inquiry among all three groups, with support for the inquiry rising by 25 points among Democrats, 21 points among Republicans and 20 points among independents.
As I noted, one of the most interesting things about this poll is the fact that Republican support for not only opening an impeachment inquiry but also removal has increased is significant. Up until now, Republicans have rejected the idea of impeachment by huge numbers, and past approval polling has shown that Republican approval of the President has been in the high eighty percent range, so the fact that we’re at the point where one-third of Republicans support an inquiry and one-fifth are ready to support removal is, as Aaron Blake notes at The Washington Post, significant:
In addition, the Post-Schar poll suggests impeachment support could rise even higher under the right circumstances. When the question is framed like this — “In impeaching Trump, do you think Democrats in Congress are making a necessary stand against Trump’s actions, or not?” — 36 percent of Republicans say that Democrats are.
It’s possible that support for impeachment in GOP circles is rising, as Trump’s actions vis-a-vis Ukraine come into focus. It’s also possible this is just a lot of polling noise. But despite Trump’s high level of support in the GOP, there has long been reason to believe there is something of a soft underbelly there, with many Republicans liking but not loving Trump and even disliking him personally. It’s possible many Republicans like Trump and even approve of his job performance but think there are legitimate questions here.
The party as a whole isn’t suddenly going to jump on board with impeaching and removing Trump. But it’s notable that the rising support for impeachment appears to include at least some of the base that Trump likes to tell us is so devoted to him.
All of this is significant for several reasons. First of all, of course, is the simple fact that we are at or near the point where a majority of Americans support at least an impeachment inquiry directed at the President of the United States. This is significant because we didn’t reach this point with Nixon until well into the Watergate investigation and that Nixon continued to enjoy high levels of support right up until the Supreme Court ordered the Oval Office tapes released and the public heard for themselves what the President said behind the scenes. At that point, there could be no denying his guilt.
This time, the shift has occurred over a short period of time, and we’ve reached the point where a majority of Americans are willing to contemplate impeachment and a plurality are willing to contemplate removal from office. his shift has occurred over a short amount of time, which is notable in and of itself. The best explanation for this, I suppose is the fact that the current story about Trump’s pressure on the Ukrainian investigation is far easier to understand than the Russia investigation and appears on the surface to be far more serious than the Emoluments Clause and porn star payoff stories. Indeed, as I’ve noted before, the main documents in this case — the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call, the whistleblower’s complaint, and the Inspector General’s report, — amount to just about 21 pages and are fairly easy to read notwithstanding the fact that there still seem to be Republicans in Congress who have not gotten around to it. Additionally, notwithstanding the efforts of the Administration and its supporters to argue otherwise, the evidence is blindingly clear hear.
In any case, this would seem to demonstrate that the Democrats are not getting too far out over their skies by opening an inquiry now. Indeed, Nancy Pelosi seems to be reading public opinion just fine. Republicans, on the other hand, continue to rally around the President notwithstanding the fact that public opinion is shifting quickly underneath their feet. We may be at or near the point where the party taking a risk here isn’t the Democrats, but the Republicans who continue to slavishly support an obviously corrupt and morally bankrupt President.
Update: A new Quinnipiac Poll has similar numbers, And here are some more numbers from that poll: