30 September 2019 - 10:39
News ID: 447389
A
Public opinion is shifting in favor of Democrats on impeachment, with new polls showing about half the nation supports a House inquiry into President Donald Trump after revelations he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

RNA - The latest NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist survey found 49 percent approval for impeachment, against 46 percent who stated they disapprove, according to The Hill.

It’s a 10-point jump in favor of impeachment over the same survey from April, around the time former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia's election interference was released.

A Politico-Morning Consult survey found a similar bounce in a short period of time, with support for impeachment spiking 7 points in the week since the Ukrainian revelations came to light, although only 36 percent in that poll said they support impeachment, compared to 49 percent who said they oppose it.

The latest Hill-HarrisX survey found support for impeachment rising 12 points to 47 percent, against 42 percent who oppose it.

And a Harvard CAPS-Harris survey released on Thursday shortly before the release of the whistleblower complaint confirmed the upward trend toward impeachment.

That survey found the public split at 50-50 on whether Trump should be impeached for “pressuring” the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden’s dealings in the country, including 52 percent of independents.

The same poll conducted in July, around the time of Mueller’s testimony to Congress, found only 40 percent of voters overall and 24 percent of independents backing impeachment.

“The poll shows that the public has serious concern over the Trump actions,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris survey.

“These are generally higher numbers than during the Mueller investigation and most consider his actions inappropriate, even if not impeachable,” he added.

Still, there are some soft spots in the polling for Democrats, particularly among independents and voters in the suburbs, who have recently looked like a potential area of strength for the party.

The NPR survey found that 44 percent of independents support impeachment, against 50 percent who said they oppose it.

And suburban voters are evenly divided, with 48 percent saying they approve and 49 percent saying they disapprove.

Democrats have been hoping to pick up new House seats in suburban districts, where women appear to be turning against the president and fast-changing demographic trends have turned once reliably Republican districts a deeper shade of purple.

“The only poll that will really matter is after the House votes to impeach him. Only then will we know if independents in key states think he should be impeached,” said one Democratic operative, adding, “If it’s a no, we lose. If it’s a yes, then we have a chance. I think if the election were tomorrow, the ‘witch hunt’ narrative is still stronger than the argument that he’s used his office for personal gain. We’ll see.”

At the moment, Republicans note that much of the swing in public opinion has been driven by Democrats, who were worried about the political fallout but have rallied behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after she decided to go all in.

“There has been a shift in favor of impeachment in the latest polls, but a lot of that shift has come among Democrats,” said Chris Wilson, a veteran Republican pollster and CEO of WPA Intelligence, noting, “Around 1 in 5 Democrats were opposed to impeachment, probably because they thought it would be bad politically, right up to the point where it became the official Democratic position. Now all of those Dems are falling in line.”

Democrats had been hesitant to launch an impeachment inquiry, largely because they worried about the electoral consequences of a dramatic showdown with the White House only 13 months out from Election Day.

There are 44 “front-line” Democrats in the House considered vulnerable in 2020, 25 of whom are up for reelection in districts that Trump carried in 2016. Democrats have a 37-seat advantage in the House.

Following the Ukraine revelations, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the chairman of the House campaign arm, predicted impeachment would cost Democrats their majority in the House.

But Democrats are bullish on the early returns they’ve seen from impeachment polling, believing that public opinion will follow them if they continue to make the case.

Democrats say the controversy in Ukraine is different from the Russia probe, believing it represents a clear-cut and simple case about how the president ordered an investigation into a political opponent and the White House sought to cover it up.

“It is a simpler story to tell. It’s also more egregious,” stated Kelly Dietrich, a Democratic fundraiser and the CEO of the National Democratic Training Committee.

“He invited a foreign government to interfere in our elections to investigate a political rival. Couple that with the fact that — look, I think there’s also a little bit of just fatigue on the guy. His favorable numbers aren’t going anywhere. ... The narrative from the GOP is that Democrats are weak. Bullshit. We’re standing up now. We’re holding people accountable,” Dietrich added.

The whistleblower revelations have brought around some Democrats who were once impeachment skeptics, such as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a White House contender who had previously warned that an impeachment inquiry would rip the country apart.

But Republicans insist that Democrats are overplaying their hand here, believing that the Ukraine issue is an easy one to muddy up.

The pro-Trump super PAC Great America is already putting six-figures behind an advertisement demanding Congress investigate Biden’s role in the firing of a Ukraine prosecutor, although there is no evidence of wrongdoing here.

GOP operatives interviewed by The Hill say the president and his campaign aren’t just grandstanding when they say they’ve been handed an electoral gift.

They believe the issue will supercharge Trump’s base, cause Democrats to abandon their focus on the economy and health care, and turn off the independents who have been gravitating away from the president.

And they say that Democrats can kiss their electoral hopes goodbye in places such as Texas, where only a few weeks ago they were talking about how the state was moving away from Republicans.

“Democrats are right to worry about the politics of impeachment,” Wilson said, adding, “Even if they impeach the president, it seems clear right now that the Senate won't remove him. So they risk being seen by their voters as ineffective while firing up the Trump base by trying to overturn the 2016 election.”

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