Yesterday it was Quinnipiac, today it’s Monmouth. This new one isn’t as bad for Democrats inasmuch as it doesn’t show opposition to impeachment and removal growing, as Quinnipiac did. The Q-poll had it 45/48 in November versus 45/51 this week. Monmouth sees the trend going ever so slightly the other way, from 44/51 in November to 45/50 now.
It’s really a distinction without a difference, though. The point of the public hearings was to build majority support for removing Trump, ideally a solid-ish majority of 55 percent or better. Pelosi and Schiff failed. They’ve got two more cracks left at salvaging some sort of political benefit from this process. One is the upcoming impeachment vote, with Dems hoping that the sheer boldness of following through on it might shake loose a few undecideds in their favor, and of course the other is the Senate trial. Lots of people who didn’t watch Schiff’s hearings will tune in for that spectacle and be exposed to the evidence for the first time. Maybe Democrats will finally build a little momentum for themselves when they put on their case.
Although, considering in which direction the polling moved after Schiff’s pageant, I wouldn’t bet on it.
That split among independents is … not a great split for Dems. There’s a huge gender gap too, with women in favor of removing the president 55/41 and men opposed 34/60(!). The weird thing about this poll is that when you look at more specific questions Monmouth asked about the Ukraine matter, they’re not as positive for Trump. When asked if they thought he withheld information from Congress for legitimate reasons or to obstruct the investigation, people split 35/53. Asked whether they think Trump pressed Ukraine for info on the Bidens to pursue official administration policy (i.e. fighting corruption) or to help himself politically, they split 21/40. If you include the share who say he did it for both reasons but for one more than the other, the number is 30/55.
That is, there are a *lot* of people in the “bad but not impeachable” category. That’s a category a lot of Republican senators would like to join and may yet join after the Senate trial, but the fact that Trump has been so insistent about them joining his narrative of what happened (NO QUID PRO QUO!) is holding them back for now. This number also caught my eye as a possible contributing factor to opposition to removing him from office:
That’s one of the few numbers in the poll that’s moved meaningfully over time. It may be that the GOP’s steadfastness in opposing impeachment is working to keep fencesitters from turning into supporters simply by convincing them that the effort is futile. If you’re undecided, think the Ukraine business smells fishy, but also have come to realize that not a single Republican in Congress will support removal, maybe you’ve come around to the position that it’s just a waste of time to proceed further. I don’t think there are a lot of people in that group, but two, three, four percent, maybe? Sure. And those would otherwise be among the most persuadable voters Dems could hope to have for their impeachment inquiry.
Via Newsbusters, here’s Joy Behar complaining today on “The View” that Republicans’ tactics are working. Exit question: If I’m right that the trial is Democrats’ last chance to move opinion, might polling during the trial affect McConnell’s thinking on whether to let Trump put on a defense or not? Imagine we’re two weeks in and Democrats are close to wrapping up their case. A new Monmouth poll drops showing that opposition to impeachment has grown. At that point Cocaine Mitch might declare victory, hold the vote, and say to hell with Trump if he’s mad that he can’t call witnesses. On the other hand, if the poll drops and it shows that support for impeachment has grown, then maybe McConnell gets nervous. Having the Democrats put on a case that’s persuaded some Americans and letting it go unanswered could be politically dangerous. In that situation, maybe Mitch needs to play it Trump’s way and let him punch back a bit by calling Hunter Biden or whoever to try to reverse the trend in the polls.