Poll: Little change in public's view of impeachment after Sondland's "bombshell" testimony

Poll: Little change in public's view of impeachment after Sondland's "bombshell" testimony

Yes, yes, it’s just one poll. There’ll be more this week and maybe they’ll say differently. But given the anti-impeachment trend in polling lately and the otherwise intense-even-for-2019 polarization around impeachment generally, it’s hard to imagine anything moving the needle, even the most damaging testimony offered during the two weeks of public hearings.

HuffPost and YouGov launched this survey last Wednesday night, in the hours after Sondland’s testimony wrapped up, and kept going through Thursday and Friday. Bear in mind that this is a poll of all adults, not registered voters, who tend to be a bit more favorable to Republicans than the general population is. And likely voters tend to be a bit more favorable to the GOP than registereds. And battleground voters also tend to be more Trump-friendly than the country at large is.

Which is a long way of saying that if the public is roughly evenly split across America, the probability is high that likely voters in swing states are tilting in the president’s favor.

Days of televised impeachment hearings have left Americans largely dug into their original opinions, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, dashing Democrats’ hopes that the testimony might finally splinter the president’s base of support and Republicans’ predictions that the hearings would backfire on their opponents…

The public is nearly evenly split on whether Trump should be removed from office, the survey found, with 45% saying he should and 42% that he should not. That’s nearly identical to the results of a survey taken a week earlier, and within the range of 44% to 48% shown in HuffPost/YouGov polling since late September.

Witness testimony *does* seem to have helped Democrats a tiny bit inasmuch as 30 percent of people polled said their view of the administration had worsened whereas 20 percent said it had improved. But 30 percent ain’t much. That very well could be coming from the hardcore Democratic base that was already primed to view the hearings as a smash success and who were voting Dem next fall no matter what happened before Schiff’s committee.

Bottom line: There are now more people who think that what Trump did *isn’t* impeachable than who think that it was. That’s not to say they think he had a PERFECT CALL! with Zelensky, or that there was NO QUID PRO QUO! There’s a meaningful “inappropriate but not impeachable” contingent here, as you can see. But if I were Pelosi, I wouldn’t be thrilled to know that impeachment is now a minority position.

I keep imagining what’ll happen if some new Trump scandal breaks next year and lefties start beating the drums to impeach him again. The idea of Democrats doing so is absurd given how this process has gone for them, but when I made that point today on Twitter, some liberals grumbled that it would depend on the facts, that we don’t know how the public would react to multiple impeachments, etc. Put aside the fact that Republicans would have a much stronger argument in 2020 to let the electorate rule on any arguably impeachable offenses, with the election just months away. And put aside the reality that a second impeachment would appear to skeptics everywhere to confirm that the Democratic agenda really had devolved into nothing more than “Get Trump.” Simple point: Can you imagine Nancy Pelosi, an impeachment skeptic from the start, letting her caucus get within 500 miles of doing it again given how lackluster the polling has been on this? She’ll be all business next year pushing the party’s kitchen-table agenda, starting with health-care reform. They’d need a video recording of Trump committing a murder or something to convince them to impeach again. (And even then, Lindsey Graham would angrily insist that it was justifiable homicide.)

And if he won reelection, they couldn’t impeach him then either. Good luck trying to undo the verdict of the electorate so soon after Americans chose to return Trump to power. Pelosi would already be looking ahead to the midterms and worrying that another go at impeachment would add nothing to the case to suburban voters to hand more congressional seats to the party. They’re not going to impeach him again, at least not for several years, if they don’t do it now.

But then, they are going to do it now, so this is all basically moot.

Here’s Democrat Jim Himes insisting on Sunday that his party’s morale is just fine: “I don’t think any Democrat in the Congress looked at what happened the last two weeks and said ‘gosh, there’s nothing there.'” That may be, but a lot of voters evidently have drawn that conclusion. At the end of the day, Democrats from purple districts aren’t worried that there’s “nothing” on Trump. They’re worried that there hasn’t been nearly enough to convince impeachment skeptics in the electorate that this divisive process was worth it and that they’ll be hearing from those voters a year from now.

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