Vindication? Not necessarily, although Donald Trump certainly painted it that way on Twitter. According to a new poll from Suffolk and USA Today, 50% of respondents think Robert Mueller’s special-counsel probe is the “witch hunt” that Trump has claimed all along. And support for impeachment has suddenly dropped by double-digits too:
Amid signs that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference may be near its conclusion, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds that trust in Mueller has eroded and half of Americans now agree with President Donald Trump’s contention that he has been the victim of a “witch hunt.”
Support for the House of Representatives to seriously consider impeaching the president has dropped since last October by 10 percentage points, to 28 percent.
The split on the first question was 50.3/46.8, just slightly outside the poll’s ±3% margin of error, but close enough to call it an even divide. Interestingly, the split was significantly wider among independents, 54/42, while assessments of Republicans (86/12) and Democrats (14/83) split pretty much as you’d expect. Mueller only got a no-witch-hunt majority among 18-34-year-olds, but every other age demo had majorities that agreed with Trump — majorities that grew as respondents’ age went up, with seniors agreeing 55/43.
No wonder Trump did a victory lap on Twitter this morning:
Wow! A Suffolk/USA Today Poll, just out, states, “50% of Americans AGREE that Robert Mueller’s investigation is a Witch Hunt.” @MSNBC Very few think it is legit! We will soon find out?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2019
It’s odd that Trump didn’t say much about the impeachment issue. The split on impeachment was much wider, 28.4/61.7, and the idea has almost no significant support among any demos, except for Democrats (53/34) and African-Americans (54/30), numbers that hardly seem enthusiastic for those demos. Otherwise, support for impeachment runs in the mid-20s to mid-30s. Men oppose it 25/67 and women 32/57, Hispanics oppose it 39/50, and even the youngest voters oppose it 36/52. No wonder Nancy Pelosi wants to stop talking about it.
It’s not all peaches and cream from Suffolk, though:
Despite that, the survey shows a nation that remains skeptical of Trump’s honesty and deeply divided by his leadership. A 52 percent majority say they have little or no trust in the president’s denials that his 2016 campaign colluded with Moscow in the election that put him in the Oval Office.
But that number does reflect an improvement from previous polls. One year ago, 57 percent had little or no trust in his denials; in December, 59 percent did.
It’s an improvement, but not a quantum leap in credibility. It looks as though Mueller’s lack of any significant indictments to support the Russia-collusion hypothesis has eroded his credibility too, although that may not be a reflection on Mueller personally. That may reflect on the expectations placed on Mueller by Democrats and the media at the beginning of this probe, and the lack of results nearly two years later. It might also reflect on the success of Trump’s PR campaign against Mueller, or (most likely) some combination of the two.
Trump seemed careful not to do a complete end-zone dance, however. “We will soon find out” acknowledges that, as Yogi Berra once said, it’s not over until it’s over. The same will be true of the perceptions tested in this poll, too. This is just a temperature-taking in the middle of the process when Mueller and his team are mostly observing radio silence. The final report could shake this up considerably, even though for now it’s not looking like we’ll hear much at all over “collusion” from Mueller. The longer Mueller takes to finish things up, though, the fewer people he may find to give him an open-minded hearing.