WASHINGTON — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff wrapped up two weeks of explosive impeachment hearings with a simple message: The inquiry produced “overwhelming evidence” of Trump’s wrongdoing, and it's time to move forward.
But new polls suggest that Americans aren’t nearly as convinced.
A trio of surveys released Tuesday show almost no change in Americans’ views of whether President Trump should be impeached from a few weeks ago. Even independents, the key persuadable voting bloc, don’t appear to have shifted in any significant way. That’s troubling for Democrats who actually hope to remove Trump from office — though it doesn’t seem to be causing Democrats any real political problems, either.
A new CNN/SSRS poll found that voters supported impeaching and removing Trump from office by 50%-43%, numbers that are identical to their last poll, in late October.
A Politico/Morning Consult weekly survey found similar numbers: Voters backed the inquiry 48%-43%, identical to their final poll in October.
Quinnipiac University found a similar lack of movement in voters’ views. Their new poll found 45% of voters supported removing Trump and 48% opposing it, nearly identical to their mid-October poll, which had a 46%-48% split. At that point, Democrats had fully committed to the impeachment inquiry — but most of the damning testimony from impeachment witnesses hadn’t yet become public knowledge, let alone broadcast live on national TV.
"The televised impeachment hearings haven't had much of an effect on the president's approval rating, or how voters feel about impeachment. The numbers still don't look good for Trump, but they definitely haven't gotten worse," said Quinnipiac University pollster Tim Malloy.
These numbers are in line with what pollsters have found for more than a month: About the same number of voters think Trump should be removed from office for his actions as those who don’t. In simple terms, voters’ views have hardened on this question along partisan lines.
These polls are the first quality public polling released since the public impeachment inquiry hearings wrapped up last Thursday, and they're similar enough to their earlier data to suggest no significant change in voters' attitudes.
It's not the groundswell of support some Democrats had hoped for, failing to bring the needed movement from independent and Republican voters that would pressure GOP lawmakers to break with Trump on impeachment — or make Trump’s actions a major problem for him in the 2020 election. But it also refutes Trump’s false claim that “support for Impeachment is dropping like a rock.”
Essentially, like so many current issues, partisanship is so baked in that whatever new facts emerge are having almost no impact on voters’ opinions.
Partisans on both sides of the issue have made up their minds. Independents’ numbers have bounced around a bit in both pollsters’ data — but given the small sample sizes for those groups, that’s likely just statistical noise rather than evidence of any real change.
Among independent voters, CNN and Politico found slight decreases in support for the impeachment process, while Quinnipiac found a slight uptick from mid-October.
This hasn’t dissuaded Democrats, who are moving ahead at a rapid clip. Schiff’s committee is expected to release its report next Monday and the House Judiciary Committee, which will draw up the actual articles of impeachment, announced it will have its first impeachment hearing next Wednesday.
More polls could show a different picture, and voters may change their minds as they continue to digest the facts over the Thanksgiving holiday. But right now, it appears that voters’ views of impeachment are as baked in as their views of Trump.
Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the media about the impeachment after greeting college athletes as part of NCAA Collegiate National Champions Day at the White House in Washington on November 22, 2019. Photo by Yuri Gripas/ABACAPRESS.COM