Minds don’t seem to be changing on impeachment

November 20, 2019, 8:30 PM GMT+0

The impeachment inquiry goes on, but minds aren’t changing, at least not yet. The latest Economist/YouGov Poll, conducted after the first week of public hearings, finds a narrow plurality (45%) supporting the impeachment of President Donald Trump by the House of Representatives, but the division is clearly partisan, and support is not increasing.

The plurality support (47%) is only marginally larger when the public is asked if the Senate should remove the president if the House impeaches him. Again, the partisan gap is enormous: 83 percent of Democrats say that if the House votes to impeach Trump that the Senate should remove him. Among Republicans, 83 percent say that the Senate should not remove him.

The hearings will continue and it is possible that minds can change. One thing that has changed recently is how the public views Congress. Approval of how Congress does its job is consistently low, and disapproval usually above 50%. In this week’s Economist/YouGov poll, 53 percent of US Adults “somewhat disapprove” or “strongly disapprove” of the way Congress is handling its job.

For years, Americans have thought Congress accomplishes little – “less than usual” as the question asks, and they say this whichever party is in charge. About half (49%) of the general public say Congress has accomplished more or less than Congress usually does at this point in its two-year term, according to this week’s poll.

For the last few Congresses, blame has rested on the Republican Party, but in the last election, Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. In several polls at the start of 2019, more saw Republicans than Democrats as responsible for Congress’s lack of accomplishment, by early fall, blame extended equally. Now, Democrats are being blamed: 43 percent of US adults say Democrats in Congress are more to blame for Congress achieving less than usual, while three in 10 (30%) say it's the Republicans’ fault, according to those who believe Congress is accomplishing "less than usual."

About half (47%) of the general public says it has a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of Democrats in Congress. More than half (54%) of US adults say they have a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of Republicans in Congress.

California Representative Adam Schiff, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who is managing the impeachment inquiry, is not especially well-liked. Three in 10 (30%) Americans have a favorable opinion of him, while 36 percent are unfavorable. Democrats, however, view him favorably, 56 percent to 16 percent.

One additional problem facing Democrats is that interest in the hearings may be dropping. About four in 10 (41%) say they watched last week’s hearings, but only 34 percent overall say they will be watching this week. Democrats haven’t lost interest (52% watched last week and 51% say they will be watching this week). But interest from Independents dropped 10 points looking forward, and Republicans claiming they will continue to watch is 12 points lower than the share that claimed to have watched last week.

Still, 46 percent of American voters claim they will continue to support Democrats in Congress, giving the party candidates a 7-point lead over the Republicans (36%) in the next Congressional election.

Seven in 10 Republicans (71%) take the position that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine, with aid dependent on that country opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. However, as was the case last week, the same percentage (71%) thinks that, even if that did happen, it would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. Both arguments have been made by the president’s supporters.

Democrats believe the opposite: eight in 10 (81%) believe that Trump did purposefully withhold military aid to Ukraine in order to get the President of Ukraine to investigate allegations of corruption against the Biden family. About eight in 10 (84%) Democrats think that is an impeachable offense.

Related: Biden retakes the national lead ahead of the fifth Democratic debate

Read the toplines and tables results from this week’s Economist/YouGov poll

Image: Getty