It may be a new year, but impeachment continues to divide the country. Democrats and Republicans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll disagree on the major points.
They don’t see eye to eye about the actions that motivated the two articles of impeachment that passed the House of Representatives—whether or not the President withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to have the government there investigate his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and whether or not he obstructed Congressional inquiries.
The vast majority of Republicans don’t believe the President withheld military aid for political purposes or that he obstructed the Congressional investigation. Independents are closely divided. But because Democrats overwhelmingly believe in the truth of both Articles of Impeachment, a plurality of Americans overall believe the charges.
Americans approve of the House impeachment votes overall (47% to 41%), a margin that has neither grown nor shrunk appreciably since the beginning of the House investigations. By a slightly smaller margin (45% to 41%), the public says the Senate should remove President Donald Trump from office.
But how and when the constitutionally-required Senate trial takes place is still up in the air. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has yet to send the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, claiming that she will wait until she knows the outlines of the Senate trial (the rules of which have yet to be voted on). Like impeachment, this action splits the country: about the same percentage of Americans approve of her action as disapprove of it.
Fewer than one in five Democrats disapprove of Pelosi’s actions (18%); fewer than one in five (19%) Republicans approve.
There is also doubt – at least among Democrats and some Independents – that the Senate would conduct a fair and unbiased trial. One in four Republicans are also doubtful that the Senate trial would be fair (26%), which is around the same proportion of Democrats that say it will be fair (23%). Moderate and conservative Democrats are the least skeptical, while the most conservative Republicans are the least skeptical about a fair trial.
A majority of the public supports the Senate calling additional witnesses in that trial. Democrats (72%) and Independents (45%) agree by wide margins that there should be witnesses, while Republicans aren’t so sure. More than a third of Republicans (37%)want additional witnesses called to testify while about two in five (41%) do not.
Looking ahead to the 2020 election, more registered voters today claim they will vote for the Democratic nominee than will vote to re-elect the President. Half (50%) say they will vote Democratic and two in five (40%) will support the President. But as in previous polls, while nearly all of those who say they will vote for the President believe he will win, nearly one in ten of those who say they will vote Democratic aren’t sure the Democratic nominee can win the election.
Biden continues to lead as the choice of Democratic primary voters. Nearly three in 10 (29%) say he is their first choice. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren trail Biden by 10and 11 points respectively.