The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, and the charge that he attempted to trade foreign military aid to Ukraine for an investigation into former Democratic Vice President (and 2020 challenger) Joe Biden and his son’s business dealings there, is seen by many Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll as different from the two most recent impeachments. Fewer Americans regard this impeachment as fair compared with the ones against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
Republicans, Democrats, and independents regard the Nixon impeachment (which ended with Nixon’s resignation) as fair; Republicans and independents say the same about the Clinton impeachment (with Democrats evenly divided about the process in which President Clinton was impeached by the House but acquitted in the Senate). But the Trump impeachment proceedings—perhaps because they are currently taking place—are seen through a strongly partisan lens, with independents almost evenly divided.
Fewer than one in five overall regard the Nixon and Clinton impeachments as a “type of coup,” a claim that has been made about the current proceedings by the president himself. Three-quarters of Republicans agree with Trump, while a similar share of Democrats don’t, and independents are divided, as they are on the question of fairness.
Perhaps because of the claim by the president and some of his supporters about the current investigation, many Republicans look back on the Nixon inquiry similarly to how they view the current one. As many Republicans think the Nixon impeachment was a “type of coup” (35%) as disagree (36%). However, neither a majority of Republicans (14%) nor a majority of Democrats (25%) look on the Clinton impeachment as a “type of coup.”
Most Republicans remain united in support of the president. By more than four to one, Republicans do not believe the president withheld aid for Ukraine in return for an investigation of the Bidens; and by 65 percent to 15 percent they believe that even if the president did that, it would not be an impeachable offense. Last week, 70 percent of Republicans also said an action like this would not be impeachable.
Opinion about the impeachment inquiry is not much different from what it was last week. A plurality – but not a majority – of the public supports the House of Representatives impeaching Trump (46%), and by the same margin, supports the Senate removing him from office (47%). More than eight in 10 Republicans oppose impeachment (81%) and removal (83%).
GOP support for the President is nearly monolithic on other questions, too: 88 percent approve of the way he is handling his job; 86 percent have a favorable opinion of him; 84 percent want him to run for re-election. 89 percent of registered Republicans would vote for him in a general election contest between him and an unnamed Democrat. As of now, just 4 percent would defect.