On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would initiate a formal impeachment inquiry. Since that time, little has changed in the polls on the specific question of impeaching Donald Trump. Should we expect anything to change once the public phase of the impeachment inquiry begins today?
Here’s a tally of the most recent national polls. Half of adults in CNN’s October 17-20 poll supported impeachment, up from 47 percent in their September 24-29 poll. Support among registered voters in Quinnipiac’s October 17-21 poll was 48 percent, virtually unchanged from the 47 percent in their late September poll. Morning Consult showed support for the House of Representatives impeaching President Trump at 47 percent in early November, down slightly from 51 percent in early October. In the Ipsos/Reuters early November poll, 45 percent believed he should be impeached, identical to its early October reading. In its late October-early November poll, Monmouth University found 44 percent believe Trump should be impeached and compelled to leave—the response was identical to their September reading. Support and opposition to impeachment has moved in a narrow range in all these polls, and it continues to fall along party lines. In polls in key swing states (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania) from the New York Times and Siena College, support for House impeachment and Senate removal ranges from 42 to 45 percent.
Only a few pollsters have asked whether Trump’s fate should be decided by the impeachment process or at the ballot box. The new Monmouth University Poll asked people to agree or disagree with this statement: “If you want Trump out of office, it makes more sense to focus on next year’s election rather than go through an impeachment process now.” Fifty-nine percent agreed while 34 percent disagreed. In the poll, of those who supported impeaching him, 39 percent agreed that focusing on next year’s election provided a better opportunity to remove him from office. An early October NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist Poll produced similar results: 58 percent said that they thought the future of Donald Trump’s presidency should be decided at the ballot box, 37 percent by the impeachment process. Ninety-three percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents opted for the ballot box. Sixty-nine percent of Democrats wanted it decided by the impeachment process.
It is surprising how few pollsters have asked Americans how high a priorityimpeachment should be for Congress. Here only Morning Consult provided us numbers and at this point they aren’t new. Between October 7-8, they asked how important a priority each of 11 issues should be for Congress. Forty-eight percent said beginning impeachment proceedings against Trump should be a top or important priority. However, when compared to the other 11 issues, impeachment ranked third to last. By comparison, 78 percent said passing a health care reform bill should be a top or important priority. In the October 1-6 Washington Post-Schar School poll, 50 percent said the inquiry was distracting Congress from other important issues.
The new Monmouth poll found that only 24 percent had a lot of trust in how the House impeachment inquiry has been conducted so far, while 29 percent had a little trust and 44 percent no trust at all. In this poll as in others, neither political party is seen as pure in itsmotivations. Thirty-one percent said congressional Democrats were more interested in pursuing the facts, while 60 percent said they were more interested in finding ways to bring Trump down. Twenty-five percent said congressional Republicans were more interested in pursuing facts, but 61 percent said they were more interested in finding ways to defend him. The late October ABC News/Washington Post poll found that about half (51%) said the Democrats in Congress were more interested in hurting Trump politically; 43 percent said they were more interested in upholding the Constitution. Fifty-five percent said the Republicans there were more interested in helping Trump politically; 36 percent said they were mainly interested in upholding the Constitution.
Half in the Monmouth poll thought that holding the hearings in public would increase trust, 17 percent said it would decrease trust, and 29 percent said it would have no impact. Given the stability and hardness of public views on impeachment at this point, and a deep level of cynicism about politicians’ behavior in general, I’m skeptical that more sunshine will move the needle on impeachment any time soon. We may have to wait until next November for the public to render its verdict.