Last week, a Morning
Consult poll showed that opinions on impeachment were split as news of
Donald Trump’s secret phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky became
public knowledge. This week kicks off with a new poll that confirms the earlier
survey and reveals that approval of an impeachment inquiry has continued to
rise to the point where a majority of Americans now support impeachment
hearings. The new CBS
News poll found that 55 percent of Americans now support the impeachment
inquiry while only 45 percent disapprove.
As you would expect, there is a partisan split on the issue.
Almost 90 percent of Democrats support the inquiry, which is not surprising,
but the fact that 25 percent of Republicans approve is very surprising. Independents
are almost evenly split at 49-51 percent.
Favoring an impeachment inquiry, however, does not automatically
translate into support for impeachment. A plurality, 42 percent, does believe that
Trump deserves to be impeached based on current information while 22 percent
say it’s too soon to say. Thirty-six percent, which is heavily skewed toward
Republicans, say that impeachment is not warranted. At this point, independents
oppose impeachment. By 41-35 percent, independents are not yet convinced that impeachment
is justified, but 24 percent are still undecided.
When asked about the legality of Trump’s actions, more than
70 percent say that they were either illegal or improper. This includes 42 percent
of Republicans and 95 percent of Democrats.
Of the total, 41 percent say that Trump acted illegally
while 31 percent say that his actions were improper. Fifty-seven percent of
Republicans called the president’s actions “proper” while 35 percent said that
they were “not proper, but legal.” Democrats overwhelmingly (77 percent) say
the president broke the law while independents were split almost evenly into
thirds with 36 percent saying Trump’s request for a favor was illegal, 34 percent
saying it was improper, and 30 percent calling it proper.
When asked whether the request for a favor was business-as-usual
or atypical, most Americans said that it was “something that few or no other
presidents have done.” Fifty-seven percent said it was an aberration while 43
percent called it “the kind of thing most presidents probably do.” The partisan
split on this question was as expected with independents again split almost
evenly. A slight majority of independents (52 percent) said Trump’s actions are
not normal diplomacy.
The big picture from the poll is, first, that it confirms that
support for impeachment has surged as the details of Trump’s phone call have
emerged. While most Americans support the inquiry, not all are sold on impeachment
with a significant number still undecided.
Any relief that Republicans feel from the split on
impeachment should be tempered by the fact that more than 70 percent of Americans
believe that Trump’s actions were either improper or illegal. That does not
bode well for the president’s re-election campaign even though he seems likely
to survive a Senate removal vote.
Although more polling is sure to come, the surveys so far
seem to suggest that the Republican
strategy of attacking the Bidens and the credibility of the whistleblower is not working well. If the Trump Administration wants to avert disaster, they
will need to convince the public that Trump’s actions were not illegal or unethical.
So far, they have not done so.
Republicans also need to rein in the president. Mr. Trump’s
Twitter meltdown over the weekend did not help his case. When the president
to the possibility of civil war if he is removed from office and accusing
his congressional critics of “fraud and treason,” he comes across as a crazy
person. That sort of behavior is likely to push more Americans into the