A majority of House Democrats have called for impeachment proceedings to begin against President Donald Trump and the majority is now moving ahead with it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on September 24, 2019, that the House was launching a formal impeachment inquiry.
The latest push was prompted by a whistleblower complaint concerning a phone call the president had with the leader of Ukraine. Despite the activity on Capitol Hill, the American public, however, has remained more skeptical about impeachment based on polling results. More on that below.
How did we get here? The whistleblower, whose identity has been kept private, accused President Trump of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in exchange for military aid. The whistleblower submitted the complaint to the intelligence community inspector general.
Congress has requested to see the document, but so far, that request had not been granted. The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee later this week. The chairman of the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, shared via social media that the whistleblower wants to testify before the committee. Schiff wrote on Twitter, “We’re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.”
On September 24, President Trump acknowledged that he had held back military aid from Ukraine but explained that the decision was about concerns that the U.S. was contributing far more resources to Ukraine than other European countries, and had nothing to do with the Bidens. President Trump later announced that he would release the full transcript of the call with President Zelensky. He said critics would “see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo!” He added, “This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!” The White House released the memo from the call, which you can read in full here.
As all of this plays out on Capitol Hill, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at how the American public feels about impeachment.
It’s worth pointing out the specific wording of the questions asked to survey responders. In the polls below, voters were asked about whether they supported Congress beginning impeachment proceedings against President Trump, which could remove him from office. That’s not the same thing as asking whether voters support removing the president from office.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Prospect of Impeachment Has Never Been Popular Among Total Voters, According to Polls
Pollsters have been asking the question of whether Congress should impeach President Trump pretty much since he first took office. And the consensus among a general population of voters is that impeachment is not popular.
A national poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, released on July 30, 2019, shows that voters were against impeachment nearly 2-to-1. Without accounting for political party, gender, or college education, 60 percent of all of those surveyed said that Congress should not begin the process to impeach President Trump. 32 percent of those surveyed swung the other way. 8 percent did not express an opinion either way.
That survey was consistent with results dating back to December of 2018, which showed that the Mueller report did not impact many people’s opinions about the president. The pollsters at Quinnipiac found that in December of 2018, 60 percent of voters were against impeachment. That number rose to 66 percent in May of 2019, before dipping back down to 60 percent at the end of July.
A Morning Consult poll conducted September 13-15 among registered voters resulted in a similar outcome. Only 37 percent of total voters surveyed thought Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. 50 percent said no, while 12 percent said they were undecided.
FiveThirtyEight Politics also took a look at an average of polls taken since President Trump took office. The site reported that on average, about 38.5 percent of total surveyed voters supported impeachment while 55.7 percent have been against it. Editor-in-chief Nate Siver added that the numbers are “fairly close to a mirror image of Trump’s approval and disapproval ratings.”
Democrats Are More Favorable of the Idea, While Independents Lean Against Impeachment
The Quinnipiac University poll referenced above showed that 95 percent of Republicans were against impeaching President Trump. As for Democrats, 61 percent were in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings. Only 28 percent of Independents said they wanted to see Congress begin proceedings to impeach the president.
The poll released in mid-September by Morning Consult and Politico again show that congressional Democrats do not have complete support from the party base, but they do have a majority. 70 percent of Democrats surveyed support Congress beginning impeachment proceedings. 18 percent were against it.
Morning Consult, DEMOCRATS: Do you believe Congress should or should not begin impeachment proceedings to remove President Trump from office? [9/13/19 to 9/15/19]
Independent voters, on the other hand, lean more toward the Republican point of view on this topic. The poll found that only 31 percent of independents surveyed support impeachment. 50 percent said they oppose beginning impeachment proceedings. But a staggering 19 percent responded that they were unsure or didn’t have an opinion.
Morning Consult, INDEPENDENTS: Do you believe Congress should or should not begin impeachment proceedings to remove President Trump from office? [9/13/19 to 9/15/19]
The vice president of Morning Consult, Tyler Sinclair, said of the poll results, “Initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump remains a popular move among the Democratic base, but it won’t necessarily help them win voters across the aisle.”
Several ‘Impeach Trump’ Petitions Are Circulating Online
There are multiple online petitions calling on Congress to impeach President Trump. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has her own petition listed on her campaign website. On her website, Warren accuses the president of obstructing “an investigation into an attack on America and into his own behavior” and that “Presidents are not above the law.”
A petition on Change.org now has 300,000 signatures.
The non-profit organization Free Speech For People has a website called Impeach Donald Trump Now. That petition has nearly 1.5 million signatures. The group wrote on the site that the effort began due to the president’s failure to divest from his business interests after taking the oath of office. The organization writes, “The nation is now witnessing a massive corruption of the presidency, far worse than Watergate.” You can see more information about additional petitions here.
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