“Support for impeaching President Donald Trump is growing,” Politico reports, and while that’s true, it might not be growing significantly. For the first time in its extensive series on the question, the latest Morning Consult poll shows support for starting an impeachment process (as opposed to impeachment itself) edging out opposition. It’s still a virtual tie, though, and the origin of that growth suggests it results from a hardening of political positions rather than conversion:
In the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 46 percent of voters said Congress should begin impeachment proceedings vs. 43 percent who said they should not. Eleven percent had no opinion. That support represented a 3-point bump from last week, when voters were evenly split.
The Morning Consult series is especially useful because they have asked the impeachment question each week for over a year. The consistent methodology allows us to measure changes in political standing, if perhaps not quite measuring the actual pinpoint levels of support and opposition at any one time. Most of the other polls reporting changes only ask the question occasionally or rarely, giving us less insight into such changes.
In this case, the changes aren’t terribly dramatic. A three-point bump in one week is nearly within the margin of error, for one thing. Given the avalanche of accusations and developments over the past two weeks, one might have expected a more dramatic escalation, at least if support for impeachment had transformed from a partisan ambition to a consensus approach.
Of course, it’s relatively early yet in Ukraine-Gate, but Democrats have been beating the impeachment drum for nearly three years now. It’s never been anything more than a Democrat/progressive-base impulse, and he internals of this poll don’t show that changing, as Politico notes:
The percentage of voters who disapprove of Trump’s job performance in the latest poll, 56 percent, still exceeds the 46 percent who think Congress should begin impeachment proceedings to remove him, or the 51 percent who say they support the current impeachment inquiry — a step short of actual impeachment proceedings. Those findings indicate that there is a slice of moderate voters who disapprove of Trump but think Democrats are going too far. …
Voters are becoming even more divided along partisan lines on impeachment. The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows eight-in-10 Democrats support starting impeachment proceedings, while only 11 percent oppose that. Among Republicans, only 9 percent support impeachment proceedings, compared to 85 percent who oppose. Independents are split: 43 percent support beginning impeachment proceedings, while 39 percent are in opposition.
Among the 41 percent of all voters who approve of the job Trump is doing as president, only 5 percent say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against him, while 88 percent say Congress should not.
But not all of the 56 percent of voters who disapprove of Trump’s job performance in the new poll are on board with impeachment. Just under eight-in-10 of those who disapprove of Trump, 78 percent, say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings, while 11 percent say Congress should not and 12 percent are undecided.
Independents have moved a little bit on the question, but only support the start of the impeachment process by a 43/39 split. Among those who claim not to vote in either party’s primaries or caucuses, the split is 43/44. Urban voters have grown more supportive, now backing the start of the process by a 61/26 split that seems rather low under the circumstances anyway, but suburban voters are diffident (46/45) and rural voters outright hostile (35/54). It only gets a regional majority in the West (51/40), but Midwestern voters are only slightly in favor (46/41) while the South slightly isn’t (42/48). Voters above the age of 39 remain opposed, especially those 45 years old or older, depending on the demo breakdown one uses.
All of the indications are that Democrats pushing impeachment are making progress in getting their voters to come home to support it. There seems to be little to no movement elsewhere even after nearly two weeks of Ukraine-Gate coverage, some of which has not just been inaccurate but flat-out dishonest. That suggests two major obstacles for Democrats who hope to come through the impeachment process without torching themselves with 2020 voters: not enough evidence to form a national consensus, and the sense that impeachment has been their main project in search of a rationalization to support it. Until Democrats can make a convincing case soon that this impeachment is credible — which AP pointed out yesterday was a big issue in the Quinnipiac poll — these numbers are simply not going to shift much further.