Public Opinion On Impeachment Has Shifted Significantly

Public opinion on impeachment has taken a rapid turn that should alarm the Trump White House.

For most of the year, both before and after the release of the Mueller Report and the details about President Trump’s involvement in a conspiracy to silence women in advance of the 2016 election, the Emoluments Clause scandal, and other issues surrounding this President, polling has generally shown that the American public was largely against impeaching the President. This was the case even as the same polls showed that most Americans wanted to see President Trump out of office and that he would lose in head-to-head matches with his top Democratic rivals. In the past two weeks or so, there has been a decided shift in that polling with increasing numbers of Americans supporting at least an impeachment inquiry:

A majority of Americans have opposed impeaching President Trump for the last two years or so, but four new surveys suggest public opinion might be starting to shift.

The surveys, conducted partly or entirely since Nancy Pelosi’s announcement on Tuesday, all show an increase in support for impeachment. They even raise the possibility that Americans may now narrowly be in favor of it.

Over all, 46 percent supported impeachment and 42 percent opposed it in an average of the four polls, from YouGov/Huffington Post, HarrisX/Rasmussen, Marist/NPR and Morning Consult/Politico.

It’s a reversal from the prior iterations of these polls, which found that only 40 percent supported impeachment, compared with 46 percent who opposed.

A caution: These polls were conducted in a rapidly developing news environment, sometimes over only a single day of interviews. This poses challenges for pollsters, who have fewer opportunities to call back hard-to-reach respondents. It could also mean that the surveys were conducted at a moment when Democrats or Republicans were particularly eager to participate in polling. Many pollsters refuse to conduct one-day surveys altogether. And these particular pollsters have tended to show more support for impeachment than others over the Trump presidency; they may continue to do so today.

Even if the polls are perfectly representative of today’s public opinion, they are just a fleeting marker at the beginning of a long process.

The increased support for impeachment was driven by Democratic-leaning voters and longtime opponents of the president, many of whom have long been skeptical about whether impeachment is worth it if it poses political risks to Democrats or if the president won’t be removed from office.

This increased support can also be seen in other polling released over the past several days after the release of the transcript of the phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky, the whistleblower’s complaint, and the Inspector General’s report:

  • A Harvard/Harris poll shows that 50% of those surveyed said that pressuring the President of Ukraine to open an investigation of former Vice-President Biden and his son would be an impeachable offense. The same poll also found that 53% of respondents said that Trump’s comments as reported in the transcripts provided by the White House were likely an effort to damage Biden, and 58% said it was inappropriate for the President to be making such a request;
  • A poll conducted by Marist College for NPR and PBS finds a plurality of Americans (49%) supporting impeachment while 46% oppose it. In a possible caveat for Democrats, the poll finds that 50% of Independents disapprove of impeachment and 52% don’t think the move is worthwhile if there’s no chance of a Senate conviction;
  • A new poll conducted by YouGov for CBS News, meanwhile, shows 55% of respondents support the opening of an impeachment inquiry while 45% oppose it. The same poll found that 87% of Democrats support impeachment, while 77% oppose it. Among Independents, 49% of Independents say they support in inquiry while 51% say they oppose it;
  • In a new ABC News/Ipsos poll, 63% of respondents said that the pressure put on the President of Ukraine by President Trump was a serious problem. As with other polling, this poll showed a sharp partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats on the question. For some reason, though, this poll did not directly ask about impeachment.

While the numbers remain somewhat soft, there has more assuredly been a shift in public opinion toward at the very least an impeachment inquiry after more than a year during which most Americans were decidedly against the idea of impeachment. 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, the complaint, and the IG 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 the political tea leaves correctly.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Politicians, Public Opinion Polls, 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. Jay L Gischer says:

    I am a firm believer in the Speaker’s political skills. At the same time, the President seems to conducted illegal activity for the purpose of undermining a leading presidential candidate of her party. This is ongoing activity.

    If she does not do her utmost to defend both the institutions of the country and her party’s candidates, she is not worthy of respect.

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  2. Kathy says:

    One way to look at it, is that people believed Trump’s denials about collusion with Russia. Then the Mueller report comes out and finds no active, provable collusion. It does find obstruction of justice, but as Mueller wasn’t fired and his report did come out, most people might figure, “well, nothing happened really.”

    Well and good. but then we get a transcript released by Trump showing him colluding with a foreign government to interfere in an election. This takes away credence from his earlier denials, and shows he’s willing to cheat that far, not to mention the misuse of foreign policy for personal gain.

    So more people now see impeachment as valid and necessary.

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  3. Jen says:

    The Mueller report was long, and touched on a number of difficult to understand legal issues. Even now, people seem to think that it cleared the president when it did nothing of the sort.

    The problems the phone call surfaced are much easier to understand. The president solicited help from a foreign government to help him in his reelection efforts (this is against the law). His staff hid the conversation (abuse of power). His DOJ tried to bury the whistle blower’s report (this is wrong). Trump has made a thinly-veiled comment that is pretty much a threat (again, abuse of power and also possibly illegal).

    The fact that these issues are easier to understand, and that the president is behaving SO BADLY in the aftermath of the release of this information, is probably at least partially why impeachment sentiment is shifting.

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  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    For months, you’ve been publishing essays arguing that the Democrats shouldn’t dare open an impeachment inquiry because there wasn’t public support for impeachment, while your commenters have been arguing that the impeachment inquiry is what actually builds public support for impeachment.

    Now that the commenters appear to have been vindicated, it would be nice to recognize that.

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  5. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon: They are not vindicated, insofar as Maconis et al were arguing a completely different case, which was based on the pre Ukraine facts and positioning.

    They were completely right that your Lefty echo chamber was running far ahead of where the Non Lefty Echo Chamber was.

    Trump changed that with a brilliant own-goal.

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  6. EddieInCA says:

    Let’s keep it simple.
    Ukrainegate is about Donald Trump holding military assistance hostage unless a foreign leader agreed to help him win an election.
    This has never happened before.
    It is an obvious and flagrant abuse of power.
    It cannot go unpunished.

    ht/Kevin Drum

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  7. JKB says:

    Well, a broad poll isn’t really telling. A poll showing increasing support in those states that Trump won in 2016 might be informative. An increase in LA county, Manhattan, the DC metro area really doesn’t matter.

    But impeachment will keep the Ukraine front and center for the possible coming release of what John Durham is discovering in regards to Clinton-aligned Ukrainians interfering the 2016 election that provided dirt on Manafort to be used by the corrupt Mueller staff to extort Manafort.

    It all promises to be quit pacy.

    When you grope through the miasma of Slavic names and follow the daisy chain of related people and entities, it appears that Ukrainian officials who backed the Clinton campaign provided information that generated the investigation of Mr. Manafort—acts that one Ukrainian court has said violated Ukrainian law and “led to interference in the electoral processes of the United States in 2016 and harmed the interests of Ukraine as a state.

    –Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s Monday WSJ oped: “John Durham’s Ukrainian Leads.”

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  8. David S. says:

    There have only ever been two reasons not to attempt impeachment: (1) the Senate wouldn’t do it, and (2) Pence would take the seat. If the Senate has turned, then one of those reasons is no longer valid.

  9. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    But impeachment will keep the Ukraine front and center for the possible coming release of what John Durham is discovering in regards to Clinton-aligned Ukrainians interfering the 2016 election that provided dirt on Manafort to be used by the corrupt Mueller staff to extort Manafort.

    The point that cannot seem to penetrate your armored skull is that, if Clinton did anything like what Trump did by using her office to extort (or even exhort) political support from a foreign government, then she too should go to jail. Just like Trump.

    Of course, if it turns out that “Clinton-aligned” here means exactly what you have repeatedly asserted was the Russian role in supporting Trump, then I’m sure you will manfully admit that it is no more damning for Clinton than it was for Trump, right?

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  10. mattbernius says:

    @JKB:

    But impeachment will keep the Ukraine front and center for the possible coming release of what John Durham is discovering in regards to Clinton-aligned Ukrainians interfering the 2016 election that provided dirt on Manafort to be used by the corrupt Mueller staff to extort Manafort.

    Serious question — you are banking a lot on the investigation that Durham is conducting for the DOJ. And based on what I’m seeing here, you appear ready to believe whatever is in that report.

    Can you explain why you are prepared to accept that particular DOJ report while simultaneously appearing in the past to reject the results of another DOJ report — namely the Mueller investigation?

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  11. Jen says:

    @DrDaveT:

    if Clinton did anything like what Trump did by using her office to extort (or even exhort) political support from a foreign government, then she too should go to jail.

    If she used her office, that’d be some trick, since she didn’t hold office while she was running.

    The fact that Trump did this strong-arming of the Ukraine president while he is in office makes it even more alarming.

    (I understand the point you were trying to make, I just thought this was a useful distinction to point out to the JKBs of the world.)

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  12. Guarneri says:

    Has Trump successfully assassinated the “whistleblower” (whistleblower, that’s a good one – snicker) yet?

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  13. Jen says:

    @Guarneri: Are you seriously joking around about this?

    The whistle-blower–yes, that’s what you call someone inside of government who identifies waste, fraud, or abuse of office and reports it–is being protected because that individual does fear for his/her life.

    That you would find this amusing is disgusting.

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  14. lynn says:

    Just FYI … it hasn’t been “the Ukraine” since the fall of the USSR. It’s now “Ukraine.”

  15. Lounsbury says:

    @lynn: Says the Ukrainian about The Ukraine.
    The English language muddles on sans political diktat.

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  16. Jay L Gischer says:

    Here’s a list of people assassinated by the Russians. I suspect a big part of Paul Manafort’s behavior is dictated by fear for his own life: https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/03/09/a-brief-history-of-attempted-russian-assassinations-by-poison/

    Why don’t you ask if Sergei Skripal is dead yet? Or Alexander Litvinenko? And while you’re at it, why don’t you ask Victor Yuschenko if you can dodge this sort of thing by not being a spy? That’s right, you can’t ask any of them, because they are all dead, having been poisoned by the Russians.

    Why don’t you get your head out of your ass and notice that we are engaged in a deadly game, with a highly skilled adversary?

    Instead, you are caught up in some uproar over “the gays” or the “bathroom invaders” or over Mexicans or Guatamalens, who mostly work and keep their noses clean. I’m pretty sure they don’t feed radioactive poison to people who stand in their way.

    I can’t rule out that some of the trolls here are part of it. Who can tell? But I don’t think @Guarneri is since he isn’t consistent enough a presence here to please any boss looking over his shoulder.

  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Jen:

    If she used her office, that’d be some trick, since she didn’t hold office while she was running.

    I wasn’t clear on whether the investigation included possible actions while she was Secretary of State. If not, then the complete non-equivalence between Trump’s confessed misdeeds and whatever Hillary!!?! (or “Clinton-aligned Ukrainians”) might have done becomes even more obvious, with or without Clinton’s knowledge, consent, or collusion. If it were still just the Russians, then (again, if there’s any there there) you could claim an equivalence, but Trump has taken abuse of office to a whole new level.

  18. Teve says:

    @Jay L Gischer: when someone writes a post and then 15 people comment on it and you come along and ‘you’ this and ‘you guys’ that, you should understand that it’s not clear who you’re addressing.

  19. de stijl says:

    @Jen:

    It’s because Guarneri doesn’t believe that Democrats and the citizens who vote for Democrats are fully American or recognizably human and worthy of empathy.

    Joking about their deaths is de rigueur in his circle, sad to say, but it’s true.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Guarneri: No, not yet. Your intelligence on the other hand is DOA.

  21. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Lounsbury:

    The OED lists “Ukraine” not “The Ukraine,” every major style guide I can find dictates that it’s “Ukraine,” the British media all almost uniformly use “Ukraine,” the Ukrainian Constitution refers to the country as “Ukraine,” and Ukraine has been a state since the early 1900s, not a geographical region, which is usually referred to without articles (the exception being with pluralized states–The U.S., The Netherlands, etc.)

    You know, you don’t actually have to be a pedantic prick 100% of the time. You can take a break now and then.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Saw an article on that subject, can’t remember where. Said that as a region under Russia it was “the Ukraine” as we might say “the West”. It meant, or came to mean, something akin to “the hinterlands” or “the sticks”, and as a result they’re a bit prickly about it being just “Ukraine”.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    Growing approval for impeachment. Why it’s like, to coin a phrase — If you build it, they will come.