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According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll conducted after the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Donald Trump, majorities of registered voters agree that the president both abused his powers and obstructed Congress — the two offenses cited in the House’s articles of impeachment.
Asked whether Trump abused his powers as president, 53 percent of registered voters said he did; only 40 percent said he did not. Fifty-one percent said Trump obstructed Congress; again, only 40 percent said he did not.
The bottom line is that registered voters favor the House’s decision to impeach the president by a 50 percent to 45 percent margin. Previous Yahoo News/YouGov polls found slightly lower levels of support for impeachment among registered voters: 48 percent in November and 49 percent earlier this month. The belief that Trump abused his powers has also ticked up slightly over time, rising two percentage points since November. And a majority of registered voters (52 percent) say that by pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations, Trump was primarily acting in his own personal and political self-interest.
Majorities this slim, however, do not represent the sort of groundswell of popular support needed to change the political calculus in the Republican-controlled Senate, which will hold a trial and vote on removal after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi forwards the articles of impeachment. That could happen as soon as next month. Indeed, the Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that support for removing Trump from office falls just short of a majority: 48 percent of Americans overall (and 49 percent of registered voters) said they support removal, compared to 40 percent of Americans (and 45 percent of registered voters) who said they oppose it.
And while pluralities of registered voters concur with the underlying charge that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine until officials there agreed to conduct the investigations he wanted (49 percent) — and that he undermined U.S. national security by doing so (46 percent) — majorities still do not.
A possible explanation is that registered voters are evenly divided over the question of whether Trump’s behavior toward Ukraine differed from how previous presidents conducted foreign policy, with 43 percent agreeing that it was “no different” and 44 percent saying the opposite.
Another problem is that public opinion on impeachment has only grown more polarized over the course of the official House inquiry. Support among Democrats has risen from 81 percent in late November to 88 percent today. Opposition among Republicans has mirrored that trend precisely, from 81 percent to 88 percent.
Meanwhile, Democrats appear to have failed to persuade self-identified independents. Earlier this month, 42 percent of independents said they favored removal; 35 percent said they were opposed. Today, however, opinion among independents on removal has swung in Trump’s direction, with 42 percent now in favor, 37 percent now opposed.
Without independents in their corner, Democrats are unlikely to convince 20 Republican senators to vote for Trump’s removal — roughly the number required for a conviction in the Senate, which requires a two-thirds majority, assuming every Democrat and independent votes for conviction.
That said, there is also little sign in the latest Yahoo News/YouGov survey, notwithstanding Trump’s predictions, that impeachment will trigger an electoral backlash against Democrats. A clear plurality of Americans (45 percent) said the impeachment proceedings had been fair to the president, compared to 36 percent who said they had been unfair; independents were evenly divided on that question. Among registered voters, 42 percent either strongly or somewhat approved of how their member of Congress had handled the impeachment process; only 30 percent either strongly or somewhat disapproved. And among respondents who said their member had voted for impeachment, approval outweighed disapproval by 20 percentage points, 53 percent to 33 percent — while approval outweighed disapproval by only six percentage points, 44 percent to 38 percent, among respondents who said their member had voted against impeachment. In other words, the constituents of pro-impeachment representatives were more inclined to approve of their representative’s conduct on this issue than the constituents of anti-impeachment representatives. Broken down by party, 35 percent of the constituents of Democratic representatives approved of how they handled impeachment; only 31 percent of the constituents of Republican representatives told Yahoo News and YouGov the same thing.
As for what lies ahead, 65 percent of Americans predicted — in accordance with conventional wisdom — that the Republican Senate will fail to convict Trump and remove him from office. But in the wake of the House impeachment vote, the share of respondents who said that Trump would be convicted and removed rose slightly (from 11 percent earlier this month to 14 percent today), as did the share who said they weren’t sure (from 17 percent to 21 percent). Overall, more than a third of the public now believes there is at least some chance Trump’s presidency will end before the next election.
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