How well did Democrats profit from having almost total control of the impeachment narrative over the past month? The news from today’s Washington Post/ABC poll deliver some bad news to Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi. Despite the drumbeat from Democrats’ leaks and breathless media coverage, support for impeachment and removal hasn’t changed at all over the last month:
The poll finds that 49 percent of Americans say the president should be impeached and removed from office, while 47 percent say he should not. That finding is almost identical to support for impeachment in a poll by The Post and the Schar School taken earlier in October.
Among Democrats, support for removing the president from office is overwhelming, with 82 percent in favor and 13 percent opposed. Among Republicans, it is almost the reverse, with 82 percent opposed and 18 percent in favor, even as the president’s approval rating reached a new low among members of his party. Independents are closely divided, with 47 percent favoring removal and 49 percent opposed.
Four weeks ago, the numbers were almost identical, except that independents went 49/47 in favor of impeachment and removal. At that time, Ukraine-Gate had broken out for a couple of weeks, and Democrats had gone wall-to-wall on impeaching Donald Trump over the whistleblower complaint of a quid pro quo between Ukraine aid and dirt on the Bidens. Pelosi had long declared Alea iacta est!, and Schiff was already demanding testimony from all involved.
Since that time, Schiff has held numerous depositions, with selective leaks scooped up by the national media of every jot and tittle that might support impeachment. Republicans only this week finally forced Democrats to offer a process with at least a few due-process improvements and still can’t force release of full transcripts. And the net result from all of those Democratic moves and advantages is … a wash.
This does not portend success for Democrats once Republicans get on an even playing field, and especially if Democrats send impeachment to the Republican-controlled Senate. At some point, Republicans will get to expose all of the materials to full public scrutiny and start issuing their own subpoenas, including for the whistleblower and any of the attorneys on Schiff’s committee to detail their involvement in the origins of this scandal. And while that may not cause support for impeachment to collapse, it’s certainly not going to push it any higher.
A month ago, it looked like Democrats had some momentum for impeachment. Now it appears stalled out, circling in a partisan stasis and showing no real movement into the kind of consensus needed for removal. Even more, it looks like a project produced by and for mainly the Democrats’ urban core, an aspect that becomes very clear when looking at impeachment support in the crosstabs:
- Urban voters: 58/38
- Suburban voters: 46/51
- Rural voters: 38/58
Democrats haven’t made the case when they had the stage all to themselves, except basically within their own bubble. It’s going to get much more difficult to move these numbers now that they have to share the stage with Republicans, and especially once they cede the stage altogether to them.