What US polls say about Trump's impeachment and possible removal

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) – Americans are on high alert as the country seeks to regain its balance after the mob attack on the Capitol last week, according to a range of polls released in recent days that reveal a nation frustrated by the President’s actions and unsure of what comes next.

Three in four respondents to a nationwide CBS News/YouGov poll released Wednesday (Jan 13) said it was at least somewhat likely that attempted violence could occur at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, which will take place on the Capitol steps just two weeks after armed extremists stormed the building.

A Quinnipiac University survey released this week found that 70 per cent of voters expressed concern for the safety of elected officials in the country.

Clear majorities in those and other nationwide polls said President Donald Trump bore the blame for the rioting at the Capitol last week, and his approval ratings have fallen to historic lows in his final days in office. But support for impeaching and removing him is not as widespread, although some polls do show a slim majority of the country backing it.

House Democrats, with the support of some Republicans, voted to impeach the President Wednesday, the first time in history that a president has been impeached twice.

The CBS poll found 55 per cent of Americans favouring his impeachment, and another survey out this week from Politico and Morning Consult showed 53 per cent of voters supporting it. The Quinnipiac poll (conducted by phone, unlike the online-based CBS and Politico polls) found 52 per cent of voters supporting the President’s removal from office.

Survey researchers of all methodologies went through a tough 2020, with polling systematically underestimating Trump’s support for the second time in two presidential elections. Pollsters haven’t conclusively determined what caused the failures, so it can be hard to be sure that support for Trump isn’t actually a few points stronger across the board.

But it is potentially more useful to watch for trends over time, which is more like comparing apples to apples. From this point of view, the public appears to be slightly – but meaningfully – more receptive to the idea of impeaching the President than it was at this time last year, when Democrats’ efforts to remove the President from office divided the country almost down the middle.

At that time, close to half of voters said they thought Democrats were pushing to remove the President for political reasons and doubted that the charges against Trump were worth impeaching him for.

This time, the country is more broadly in agreement on the dire nature of what Trump has been accused of. Roughly 6 in 10 Americans said in the CBS poll that they thought the President had encouraged violence at the Capitol. A PBS NewsHour/Marist College survey conducted by phone on the day after the attack found 63 per cent of the country saying the President bore considerable blame for the chaos.

The effects on Trump’s approval numbers have been severe. In all recent polls, his job approval is in the mid- to high 30s, with roughly 3 in 5 Americans disapproving of his performance.

While his unwavering support from about a third of the electorate has saved Trump from dipping into the 20s, where Richard M. Nixon and George W. Bush both were near the end of their presidencies, the latest numbers reflect his diminished support across the board, including among Republicans; his job approval among members of his own party, once almost universal, has dipped into the 70s.

Ed Goeas, a longtime Republican pollster, said that in recent weeks, Trump had scared away many of the last traditional-leaning, conservative GOP voters who had remained in his corner.

“They’re the ones who have kind of moved to ‘This is just not true’ about what happened with the election being stolen,” Goeas said. “And then they see the events of last Wednesday, and I think they’re concerned.”

He added: “I think there’s a great deal of concern out there for what happens over the next eight days. What you’re going to see is the reality of: We now have more troops in DC than we have in Afghanistan. Kind of hard to miss.”

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