A complement to yesterday’s YouGov poll via Becket Adams, in case you were reluctant to draw firm conclusions based on one data set. (Which is wise.) YouGov polled adults whereas Rasmussen polled likely voters, but the results are largely the same. Most Republicans like the idea of removing The One from office, but not nearly enough to offset the number of Democrats and independents who don’t.
Fifty-two percent (52%) of voters believe it would be bad for the United States if some members of Congress seek to impeach Obama, and even more (56%) think it would be bad for the Republican Party if an impeachment effort is made…
Fifty-five percent (55%) of voters say electing an opposition Congress is the better way for opponents to halt or change the president’s policies. Just 15% think impeachment is the better way for opponents to go, and even fewer (12%) favor lawsuits challenging the president’s actions like the ones House Speaker John Boehner is now championing…
Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Republicans think the president should be impeached and removed from office. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of Democrats and 52% of voters not affiliated with either major party disagree…
Fifty-two percent (52%) of GOP voters agree with 53% of Democrats and 60% of unaffiliateds that electing an opposition Congress is the better way to halt or change the president’s policies.
Overall, 32 percent support impeachment versus 58 percent who don’t. In the YouGov poll, 32 percent supported it versus 68 percent who didn’t, although 12 percent within the latter group thought Obama had committed offenses worthy of impeachment. If you exclude them, YouGov’s topline numbers are almost identical to Rasmussen’s. Even on the basic question of whether Obama’s been more or less faithful to the Constitution than most other presidents, irrespective of whether he should be impeached or not, Rasmussen finds a majority who think O’s been as good or even better than his predecessors. Fifty-two percent say he’s either more faithful (22 percent) or equally faithful (30 percent) to the Constitution; 44 percent say he’s less faithful.
It could be that these numbers will change as circumstances do, of course. If the GOP falls flat in November and fails to retake the Senate, maybe some Republican voters who are desperate to rein in O will shift to impeachment now that all electoral attempts have failed. Or maybe Obama will engage in an unusually high-profile executive power grab on a hot button issue — like, say, a mass amnesty? — that alienates independents and shrinks the margin that currently opposes impeachment. Republicans in Congress wouldn’t pursue something as quixotic as impeachment, though, without being very confident that it would succeed. Even if the public ended up being split 50/50, that wouldn’t be nearly enough to scare Senate Democrats into voting for removal; you’d need Obama’s public support to truly crater to scare Dems enough to remove their own guy. Probably not even a mass amnesty would do it, I’m sorry to say.
Exit question via Robert Tracinski: Should we follow the “Mencken dictum” on this?
The American people heard these arguments, and they went with the other guy. So we have to remember H.L. Mencken’s dictum: the people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. They voted for Obama, they got him, and now they have to lump it. If they don’t like the results, they can choose better next time.
I like that in principle. It’s the “let it burn” approach to government: If the public wants Obama-style liberalism, let’s get out of their way and let ’em have it and see how it works out for them. We’re already seeing how it works abroad; it may take longer at home, but eventually they’ll learn some hard, hard lessons about unfunded liabilities. The problem with the Mencken approach, though, is that it ends up making constitutional limits on executive power a function of popular will (or, more accurately, public complacency). In theory, if the public wanted Obama to dissolve Congress and pass laws by White House edict, we should let him do it in the spirit of “let it burn.” That’s fine, but that’s not the system we have. If you want that system, repeal the Constitution first. Until then, as George Will argued, it’s up to federal judges to police those constitutional limits just as they’ve done for 200 years. That’s why, although I realize that Boehner’s lawsuit is mainly a political stunt, I appreciate it as an attempt to force the judiciary to do its job here. If they want to punt their responsibilities back to the voters by insisting that this question be settled at the polls, okay, but let’s at least give them the option of stepping up.