Hoo boy. If this result from the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll accurately reflects the mood of the electorate, the theoretical blue wave in November might become a whole lot more real. According to the survey, Americans are in a virtual tie over whether Trump should be impeached — and edging toward a majority saying yes:
— ABC News (@ABC) August 31, 2018
Disapproval of Donald Trump is at a new high, support for the Mueller investigation is broad and half of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll favor Congress initiating impeachment proceedings against the president.
Sixty percent in the national survey disapprove of Trump’s performance in office, numerically the highest of his presidency, albeit by a single point; that includes 53 percent who disapprove strongly, more than half for the first time. Thirty-six percent approve, matching his low.
Just how accurate is this, though? While the WaPo/ABC survey asks some unique questions, it also asks a couple of common questions among polls. Trump’s job approval of 36/60 (note: among all respondents, not registered voters) is a very big outlier over the last couple of weeks. His current RCP average is 42.8% approval and 54% disapproval, and that includes the WaPo/ABC result of 38/60 among RVs. That’s a spread of 11.2 points, not the 22 or 24 point spread found within this poll.
According to RCP’s aggregation, only two other polls all summer put Trump’s approval rating below 40% — a Quinnipiac poll in mid-July and the Gallup tracking poll three weeks ago. Both have Trump above 40% in their latest iterations. The rest have the range narrowing, as the chart at RCP shows. The WaPo/ABC trendline is going in the opposite direction.
That makes the outcomes on the other questions at least a little suspect of being outliers as well, at least in amplitude. That may not be a lot of comfort for some of those outcomes, though. For instance, a majority of registered voters believe Trump has tried to interfere with Robert Mueller’s investigation by a 52/37 gap. Even if one recalculated the poll to bring the approval rating in line with other polling, that’s still going to have a plurality in support of that prospect.
That’s even more true on a couple of other key questions. Firing Jeff Sessions would cross 64% of respondents who say Trump shouldn’t fire his AG. (Fifty-two percent of Republicans feel the same way on that question.) Two-thirds of respondents oppose a pardon for Paul Manafort with only 18% supporting the idea, although that’s less opposed by GOP voters, 34/46.
On the question of impeachment, however, the amplitude of the responses might not matter quite so much. Even if the true number was more like, say, 42/56, it might be motivating that 42% a lot more than the 56% when it comes to midterm turnout.Elections tend to be about change more than preserving a status quo. Just ask Barack Obama.
The way in which this potential outlier was achieved matters, too. If it was by oversampling Democrats (this poll had a D+8 margin, 33/25/37), then independents are another worry. Unaffiliated voters support impeachment proceedings 49/46 in this poll, and if that’s accurate, they’re likely going to swing to Democrats hinting at that outcome in the midterms.
Of course, we’ll know more in the next two months. If this is a real trend, it will start appearing in other polling. If it does, Republicans might want to stop making impeachment a rallying point in their campaigning and stick to their economic wins.