This is not great news for the president, even if one can nitpick the way that the Washington Post framed the question. Their new poll shows a strong majority supporting an impeachment inquiry, 58/38, with a near-majority 49% supporting impeachment as well. That comes from a double-digit increase in support from all three partisan demographics since the previous poll in July, taken just before the collapse of Muellermas:
A majority of Americans say they endorse the decision by House Democrats to begin an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, and nearly half of all adults also say the House should take the additional step and recommend that the president be removed from office, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.
The findings indicate that public opinion has shifted quickly against the president and in favor of impeachment proceedings in recent weeks as information has been released about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian government officials to undertake an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden, a potential 2020 campaign rival, and Biden’s son Hunter.
Previous Post-Schar School or Post-ABC News polls taken at different points throughout this year found majorities of Americans opposing the start of an impeachment proceeding, with 37 percent to 41 percent saying they favored such a step. The recent revelations appear to have prompted many Americans to rethink their position.
The poll finds that, by a margin of 58 percent to 38 percent, Americans say the House was correct to undertake the inquiry. Among all adults, 49 percent say the House should take the more significant step to impeach the president and call for his removal from office. Another 6 percent say they back the start of the inquiry but do not favor removing Trump from office, with the remainder undecided about the president’s ultimate fate. The results among registered voters are almost identical.
Let’s get the pedantic point out of the way first. The poll question declares that “Congress has begun an impeachment inquiry,” which is not technically true. The House has not yet voted to launch an impeachment inquiry, which means that step has yet to be taken. It’s been clear that impeachment was the aim of all these committee investigations, so that may not matter in terms of the polling, but it is inaccurate.
That’s a thin reed for optimism about these numbers, though, especially in the crosstabs. Support among Democratic voters for an impeachment inquiry rose by 25 points since July, but also by 21 points among Republicans and 20 points among independents, too. The GOP opposition to an inquiry is still 71%, with 59% feeling strongly about their position, but that’s an erosion nonetheless. Independents now favor an inquiry by a majority 57/38, with 40% feeling strongly about it. (The sample D/R/I was 30/25/44, an oversample of independents but roughly accurate for the Dem/GOP balance.)
When it comes to impeachment and removal, the numbers improve for Trump, but not by much. The overall 49% for removal is precisely the same number among independents, with 78% of Democrats wanting his removal — and 18% of Republicans, too.
The other demos don’t bring the White House much cheer either. Apart from Republicans, the only other demos not in favor of at least the inquiry are senior citizens (49/49 tie) and whites with no college degree (47/48). Men are closely split, with 51% favoring the inquiry but split 44/45 on impeachment and removal. Women, on the other hand, are overwhelmingly supportive of both the inquiry (65%) and impeachment/removal (54/32). That gender gap might get brutal for Republicans in the next presidential election, especially if Democrats nominate a woman on the ticket in either slot.
One question not asked that perhaps should have been: How many voters support impeachment but not removal, ie, the Bill Clinton option? This WaPo poll tied them together, but as we know, it’s unlikely that removal will take place. If so, is impeachment still warranted?
Finally, Democrats have been accused of overreach, but this poll doesn’t necessarily show them of overplaying their hand — yet. Voters split on approval of Democrats’ handling of the inquiry (49/44), but they’re deeply negative about the GOP’s handling of it (33/56). A majority rejects the idea that Democrats have overreacted (41/55), although a slender majority also thinks it’s a distraction from more important issues (50/46). Majorities believe that Democrats are upholding their constitutional duties (53/46) and even more that it’s a “necessary” corrective to Trump’s actions (61/35).
This is just one poll, of course, and from a polling series that has tended to be a little less reliable than others. Bear in mind, though, that other polls are also showing the same trends, including the ScottRasmussen.com series, which shows 48% for impeachment and removal. If the White House can’t turn this around fast, Trump will get impeached at the least, and it doesn’t appear that Democrats will pay much of a price for it.