Morning Consult poll: 81% of voters dug in on impeachment -- and aren't open to changing their minds

If Democrats are hoping for a political consensus to form for impeaching and removing Donald Trump from the presidency, they may already be too late. A new Morning Consult/Politico poll shows over 60% of respondents have completely made up their minds, with another 20% or so highly skeptical of changing theirs. That doesn’t bode well for impeachment-inquiry hearings that might only get a quarter of the television audience:

Most voters say there is little to no chance they will change their minds about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s conduct, even as public hearings are set to kick off on Wednesday, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

A majority of voters, 62 percent, say there is no chance they could change their minds about impeachment, the poll shows. Another 19 percent say there’s only a small chance they change their minds.

Comparatively, only 2 percent say there is a strong chance they could change their mind, and another 8 percent say there is “some” chance they’ll change their mind.

So much for a plea for bipartisan consensus. On this question the demos are probably superfluous, but let’s go to them anyway. The overall split for approving the impeachment inquiry is 50/49, basically a tie. The partisan breakdown on that question is 82/10 among Democrats, 15/81 among Republicans, and 47/37 among independents, with 16% of the latter undecided.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how entrenched each demo is. Only 7% of Democrats offer any chance of changing their minds, with 81% either saying it’s unlikely or impossible. Among Republicans, the numbers are almost identical at 7/85. And even among independents, the numbers are 10/75.

This should come as no surprise, just as impeachment is no surprise. House Democrats, and especially Adam Schiff, have been agitating for impeachment almost since the night Donald Trump won the 2016 election. Their rationales for it may have changed, but their goal has been obvious all along. That long campaign has already polarized the electorate, even among independents with no strong partisan affiliations. In America right now, you have Team Impeachment and Team Witch Hunt, and that’s thanks in large part to Schiff.

That also explains why the potential audience for this will provide another stark difference from 1974. Only 27% say that they are “very likely” to watch the hearings, with another 31% saying it’s only “somewhat likely, and 32% combine for not too likely or not likely at all. Who comprise the “very likely” viewers? Primarily Democrats, with 40% of their respondents expressing enthusiasm for the event. Among Republicans (21%) and independents (19%), the desire to tune in is much lower, which means that they’re not even going to be around to hear the supposedly convincing argument that these grounds for the Democratic Impeachment Project are totes legit.

And that’s just to start. As the hearings delve into tedium and partisan bickering, expect many viewers to tune out. Schiff has already kicked off that issue too, as I warned in my column at The Week:

And it might get worse. Schiff released rules for the inquiry on Tuesday that threatened Republicans on the committee with referrals to the Ethics Committee if they attempt to “further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracy theories about 2016 election interference[.]” The latter is especially rich coming from Schiff, who repeatedly insisted that he’d seen hard evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia in the same election, only to be contradicted by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s finding of “no evidence” for that hypothesis.

If these are truly “debunked” theories, then Democrats should have no problem dealing with them in the hearing. Kent’s deposition touched directly on the issue with the Bidens, though, and Republicans will certainly want to explore that further. If Schiff starts cutting off questions and threatening punitive action, the viewers who do tune in may well conclude that the purpose of this hearing isn’t a fearless foray to find the truth, but yet another partisan soap opera.

That won’t move Americans closer to consensus on impeachment and removal. It might move them closer to the realization that this is nothing much more than a political argument that belongs in an election campaign.

I don’t expect anything edifying at all from this process, and neither do most Americans. Only 8% believe it very likely that Trump will be removed from office even if impeached, with 62% skeptical at best. Only 51% think it’s likely or very likely that he’ll be impeached, which seems rather interesting. Thirty-eight percent think Trump won’t get impeached at all, with only 44% thinking that to be an unlikely outcome. Even if voters aren’t changing their minds, it seems voters think a few House Democrats might change theirs. That’s worth watching.

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