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Potential Impeachment Impact On 2020

Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019

Democrats want inquiry despite little likelihood of ousting Trump

West Long Branch, NJ – President Donald Trump’s approval rating may remain underwater, but a majority of the public continues to oppose removal by impeachment even as the House Judiciary Committee has started proceedings.  The latest Monmouth University Poll finds that about one-fifth of those who disapprove of Trump’s job performance join nearly all of those who approve of the president to say that moving ahead with an impeachment inquiry is a bad idea. Only 1-in-5 Americans think that an impeachment trial would actually lead to Trump’s removal from office.  Opinion is mixed in terms of how this could impact the 2020 elections, but there are some indications in the poll that surviving an impeachment trial could provide a small net boost for Trump’s reelection effort.  However, many Democrats want to plow ahead with impeachment regardless of the political consequences.

Trump’s overall job rating stands at 40% approve and 53% disapprove, which is similar to his 41% to 50% rating in June. Over the past 12 months, the president’s approval rating has ranged between 40% and 44% in Monmouth’s polling while his disapproval rating has ranged between 49% and 54%.  The usual demographic clefts remain present – men are divided on the president’s job performance (49% approve and 43% disapprove) while women are decidedly negative (31% approve and 62% disapprove). White Americans without a college degree tend to approve of Trump (55% approve and 37% disapprove), while the reverse is true among white college graduates (38% approve and 57% disapprove).

“Donald Trump is not a popular president by most measures, but the appetite for impeachment remains low,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Just over a third (35%) of Americans feel that Trump should be impeached and compelled to leave the presidency while a clear majority (59%) disagree with this course of action. Support for the president’s removal via impeachment has ranged between 35% and 42% since Monmouth started asking this question in July 2017, with the current results at the low end of that range. Opposition to impeachment has been between 53% and 59% during the same time.

Overall, 41% of Americans say it is a good idea for the House Judiciary Committee to conduct an inquiry which may or may not lead to impeachment, but more (51%) say even this initial step is a bad idea. Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler confirmed the launch of an inquiry earlier this month. Most Democrats (72%) feel it is a good idea to go down this path, but only 39% of independents and just 8% of Republicans agree.  Among those who disapprove of the president’s job performance, fully two-thirds (69%) say it is a good idea to take this step, while just over 1-in-5 (22%) disagree.

Among those who feel an impeachment inquiry is a good idea, 18% cite a need to follow the evidence, 17% say Trump has broken the law, 17% point to Trump’s moral character, 16% cite the president’s policies as problematic, 11% express concerns about racism and immigration issues, 10% say Trump acts like he is above the law and needs to be held accountable, 9% want the transparency of a public inquiry, 7% say Trump is dishonest, and 7% say he is unfit or unqualified for the office.

Among those who say an impeachment inquiry is a bad idea, the top reasons include feeling that Trump has done nothing wrong (27%), it would be a waste of time and money (22%), the inquiry would be a partisan “witch hunt” (13%), Trump has done a good job as president (12%), and Congress should be working on other issues (10%).  There are some differences in these rationales, though, based on how poll respondents feel about the president’s overall job performance.  Among those who approve of Trump, the idea that he has done nothing wrong (34%) is the top reason for being negative toward an impeachment inquiry, followed by it being a waste of resources (22%), it is a partisan witch hunt (18%), Trump has done a good job in office (16%), Congress should be working on other things (11%), and the charges have already been investigated (7%).  Among those who disapprove of Trump but feel that an impeachment inquiry is a bad idea right now, 26% say it would be a waste of resources, 16% say it would backfire on the Democrats, 16% say it is too late in Trump’s term to start this process, 10% feel that Trump has not done anything impeachable, 10% say there is no point because the Senate won’t remove him, 8% say Congress should be focused on other issues, and 7% say an inquiry would be bad for the country.  Another 15% of this group offer general negative comments about Trump.

“There’s a small segment of the public who want Trump removed from office but feel the political calculus of an impeachment trial would not be the smartest move. They are outnumbered, though, by others who disapprove of Trump and feel that putting his misdeeds on the record is worth the effort even if the prospect of ousting him is doubtful,” said Murray.

Removal of a sitting president by impeachment requires the House passing articles of impeachment followed by two-thirds of the Senate voting to agree with those charges. Just 37% say it is a good idea for the House to embark on formal impeachment proceedings if there is unlikely to be a conviction in the Senate, while 56% maintain this is a bad idea.

In fact, only 1-in-5 Americans think it is likely (6% very and 14% somewhat) that the Senate would actually vote to oust Trump if the House did pass articles of impeachment.  Another 25% say removal of the president by the Senate is not too likely and fully half (50%) say this outcome is not at all likely.  Even those who support impeachment admit that Trump’s removal is unlikely – just 33% of this group expect that the Senate would vote to convict on articles of impeachment, while 63% say this is not likely to happen.  Among those who oppose impeachment, only 11% say it would probably to lead to Trump’s removal from office while 83% say this outcome is not likely.

“Impeachment may not earn widespread support, but that does not mean most voters want to see Trump remain in office. It is just that the ballot box seems to be their preferred way to achieve his ouster,” said Murray.

A majority (57%) of registered voters say it is time to have someone new in the Oval Office, while just under 4-in-10 (39%) feel that Trump should be reelected in 2020. This is very similar to the 59% “someone new” and 37% reelect results in June, just before the official launch of the president’s reelection campaign.

In approximately 300 “swing” counties, accounting for about one-fifth of the total U.S. electorate, only 35% back the incumbent’s reelection compared with 60% who want a new occupant in the White House.  Since March, support for Trump’s reelection has ranged between 33% and 45% across these swing counties. In 2016, Trump lost the cumulative vote in these counties by just one percentage point.

In the nearly 2,500 “red” counties that Trump won by an average of 36 points in 2016, his current standing is a comparatively narrower 60% for reelection and 36% for someone new. In the remaining 360 “blue” counties that Hillary Clinton won by about 35 points on average, only 25% of voters support Trump for a second term while 72% want someone new.  Over the past five months, support for the president’s reelection has ranged between 51% and 60% in the “Trump counties” and between 21% and 25% in the “Clinton counties.”

The Monmouth poll found mixed results on how an impeachment process might impact the 2020 elections, with the potential for a small net benefit for Trump.  Overall, 31% of the public believes that a formal impeachment process without a conviction will put Trump in a stronger position to be reelected next year, 23% say it will put him in weaker position, and 36% say it will have no significant impact on his reelection prospects either way.  Furthermore, 27% of the public believes that a formal impeachment process without a conviction will put House Democrats in a stronger position to retain their majority in 2020, while 34% say it will put them in weaker position, and 31% say it will have no significant impact either way.

Impeachment supporters are somewhat, but not overwhelmingly, more likely to see positive electoral outcomes for their side.  Among impeachment supporters, 25% say it will strengthen Trump’s reelection bid and 39% say it will weaken him, while 43% say it will strengthen House Democrats in 2020 and 19% say it will weaken them.  Among impeachment opponents, 35% say it will strengthen Trump’s reelection bid and 14% say it will weaken him, while 18% say it will strengthen House Democrats in 2020 and 45% say it will weaken them.

“Voters are not the best prognosticators of how things will play out. In fact, they’re almost as bad as actual pundits.  But the point of asking these questions is that the results suggest some people are taking political considerations into account when thinking about pursuing impeachment. On the other hand, we also see evidence that a sizable number of Trump opponents feel that potential consequences for 2020 should not be a factor in moving ahead with the inquiry,” said Murray.

The impact of an impeachment process on individual voter choices is also muddled. About equal numbers say they would be either more likely (24%) or less likely (26%) to support their own member of Congress if he or she voted in favor of impeachment, while 46% say this would have no significant impact on their House vote.  On the other side of the issue, more voters say they would be less likely (28%) rather than more likely (16%) to support an incumbent House member who voted against impeachment, while 51% say such a vote would have no impact either way.

Among Republicans, 49% say they would be less likely to back their incumbent House member in 2020 if she or he voted in favor of impeachment (6% would be more likely) and 35% would be more likely to back a representative who voted against impeachment (7% less likely).  Among Democrats, 43% say they would be more likely to back their incumbent House member in 2020 if she or he voted in favor of impeachment (8% would be less likely) and 44% would be less likely to back a representative who voted against impeachment (5% more likely).  Among independents, 25% say they would be less likely and 21% would be more likely to back their incumbent House member in 2020 if she or he voted in favor of impeachment and 28% would be less likely and 14% would be more likely to back their representative who voted against impeachment.

“These findings underscore Nancy Pelosi’s dilemma. Democratic House members who rely on an energized base for reelection can afford to be gung-ho on impeachment. Those who depend on the independent vote, which includes much of the 2018 freshman class, need to take a more cautious approach because the potential impact is uncertain,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll also finds that 17% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing and 71% disapprove. Just over 1-in-4 (28%) say the country is headed in the right direction while 62% say things have gotten off on the wrong track. These results are similar to other Monmouth poll findings over the past year.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 16 to 20, 2019 with 800 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president?

  TREND: Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
April
2019
March
2019
Jan.
2019
Nov.
2018
Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Approve 40% 41% 40% 40% 44% 41% 43% 43% 43% 41% 39% 42%
Disapprove 53% 50% 52% 54% 51% 54% 49% 50% 46% 50% 54% 50%
(VOL) No opinion 7% 9% 8% 6% 5% 5% 8% 7% 11% 9% 8% 8%
(n) (800) (751) (802) (801) (802) (805) (802) (805) (806) (803) (803) (806)
  TREND: Continued Dec.
2017
Sept.
2017
Aug.
2017
July
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Approve 32% 40% 41% 39% 39% 43%
Disapprove 56% 49% 49% 52% 53% 46%
(VOL) No opinion 12% 11% 10% 9% 8% 11%
(n) (806) (1,009) (805) (800) (1,002) (801)

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?

  TREND: Aug.
2019
June
2019
June
2019
May
2019
April
2019
March
2019
Jan.
2019
Approve 17% 19% 19% 20% 24% 23% 18%
Disapprove 71% 69% 69% 71% 62% 68% 72%
(VOL) No opinion 13% 12% 12% 9% 14% 9% 10%
(n) (800) (751) (751) (802) (801) (802) (805)
  TREND: Continued Nov.
2018
Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Dec.
2017
Sept.
2017
Aug.
2017
July
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Jan.
2017
Approve 23% 17% 19% 17% 18% 21% 16% 17% 18% 19% 19% 25% 23%
Disapprove 63% 69% 67% 71% 72% 68% 65% 69% 69% 70% 68% 59% 66%
(VOL) No opinion 14% 14% 14% 12% 11% 11% 19% 15% 13% 11% 13% 16% 11%
(n) (802) (805) (806) (803) (803) (806) (806) (1,009) (805) (800) (1,002) (801) (801)
  TREND: Continued Sept.
2016*
Aug.
2016*
June
2016*
March
2016
Jan.
2016
Dec.
2015
Oct.
2015
Sept.
2015
Aug.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Jan.
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Approve 15% 14% 17% 22% 17% 16% 17% 19% 18% 18% 19% 21% 18% 17% 14%
Disapprove 77% 78% 76% 68% 73% 73% 71% 71% 72% 69% 71% 67% 70% 73% 76%
(VOL) No opinion 8% 9% 7% 10% 10% 10% 12% 11% 11% 12% 10% 12% 11% 11% 10%
(n) (802) (803) (803) (1,008) (1,003) (1,006) (1,012) (1,009) (1,203) (1,001) (1,002) (1,005) (1,003) (1,008) (1,012)

*Registered voters

3. Would you say things in the country are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

  TREND: Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
April
2019
March
2019
Nov.
2018
Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Dec.
2017
Aug.
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Jan.
2017
Right direction 28% 31% 29% 28% 29% 35% 35% 40% 33% 31% 37% 24% 32% 31% 35% 29%
Wrong track 62% 62% 63% 62% 63% 55% 57% 53% 58% 61% 57% 66% 58% 61% 56% 65%
(VOL) Depends 8% 6% 4% 7% 6% 7% 6% 3% 5% 6% 3% 7% 4% 5% 4% 4%
(VOL) Don’t know 2% 2% 3% 3% 2% 3% 3% 3% 4% 1% 3% 3% 5% 3% 5% 2%
(n) (800) (751) (802) (801) (802) (802) (805) (806) (803) (803) (806) (806) (805) (1,002) (801) (801)
  TREND: Continued Aug.
2016*
Oct.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Right direction 30% 24% 28% 23% 27% 23% 28%
Wrong track 65% 66% 63% 68% 66% 69% 63%
(VOL) Depends 2% 6% 5% 5% 5% 5% 5%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 4% 3% 3% 2% 3% 4%
(n) (803) (1,012) (1,001) (1,002) (1,005) (1,008) (1,012)

            *Registered voters

[QUESTIONS 4 & 5 WERE ROTATED]

4. Do you think President Trump should be impeached and compelled to leave the Presidency, or not?

  TREND: Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
March
2019
Nov.
2018
April
2018
Jan.
2018
July
2017
Yes, should 35% 35% 39% 42% 36% 39% 38% 41%
No, should not 59% 59% 56% 54% 59% 56% 57% 53%
(VOL) Don’t know 6% 6% 5% 4% 5% 5% 4% 6%
(n) (800) (751) (802) (802) (802) (803) (806) (800)

[REGISTERED VOTERS ONLY: moe= +/- 3.7%]

5. Looking ahead to the 2020 election for President, do you think that Donald Trump should be reelected, or do you think that it is time to have someone else in office?

  TREND:  REGISTERED       VOTERS Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
March
2019
Jan.
2019
Nov.
2018
Should be reelected 39% 37% 37% 38% 38% 37%
Someone else in office 57% 59% 60% 57% 57% 58%
(VOL) Don’t know 4% 4% 4% 5% 5% 4%
(n) (689) (660) (719) (746) (735) (716)

6. Do you think it is a good idea or bad idea for the House Judiciary Committee to conduct an impeachment inquiry into President Trump that may or may not lead to impeachment?

  Aug.
2019
Good idea 41%
Bad idea 51%
(VOL) Both 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 6%
(n) (800)

[IF “GOOD IDEA” in Q6: moe= +/- 5.5%]

7A. Why do you feel that way?  [LIST WAS NOT READ.]

[Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted.

  Aug.
2019
Broken the law 17%
Need to follow evidence 18%
Exposure, transparency 9%
Unfit, unqualified 7%
Liar, dishonest 7%
Checks & balances 5%
Acts above the law, hold accountable 10%
Bad policies, bad job 16%
Needs to be removed 4%
Racism, immigration 11%
Moral character, personality 17%
Russia ties 3%
Other 7%
No answer 3%
(n) (314)

[IF “BAD IDEA” in Q6: moe= +/- 4.7%]

7B. Why do you feel that way?  [LIST WAS NOT READ.]

[Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted.

  Aug.
2019
Trump has not done anything wrong 27%
Waste of time, money 22%
Trump’s done a good job 12%
Partisanship, witch hunt 13%
Already investigated, move on 7%
Congress should work on other things 10%
Will backfire on Democrats 5%
Too late, wait for election 7%
Senate won’t remove him 3%
Bad for country 3%
Trump duly elected 2%
No worse than past presidents or Congress 3%
Negative comments about Trump 5%
Other 7%
No answer 2%
(n) (431)

8. As you may know, impeachment is a two-step process. First, the House must pass articles of impeachment. Then, two-thirds of the Senate must agree with those articles in order to remove a sitting president. If the House does pass articles of impeachment, how likely is it that the Senate will actually vote to remove President Trump from office – very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?

  Aug.
2019
Very likely 6%
Somewhat likely 14%
Not too likely 25%
Not at all likely 50%
(VOL) Don’t know 5%
(n) (800)

9. Do you think it is a good idea or bad idea for the House to conduct formal impeachment proceedings if the Senate is unlikely to vote to remove Donald Trump from office?

  Aug.
2019
Good idea 37%
Bad idea 56%
(VOL) Don’t know 7%
(n) (800)

10. If Donald Trump is impeached by the House, but not removed from office by the Senate, do you think this will put him in a stronger position or weaker position to win reelection in 2020, or will it have no significant impact either way?

  Aug.
2019
Stronger position 31%
Weaker position 23%
No significant impact 36%
(VOL) Don’t know 9%
(n) (800)

11. And if Trump is impeached by the House, but not removed from office, do you think this will put the Democrats in a stronger position or weaker position to keep control of the House of Representatives in 2020, or will it have no significant impact either way?

  Aug.
2019
Stronger position 27%
Weaker position 34%
No significant impact 31%
(VOL) Don’t know 8%
(n) (800)

[QUESTIONS 12 & 13 WERE ROTATED]

12. If your member of the House of Representatives voted in favor of impeachment, would that make you more likely or less likely to vote for him or her in 2020, or would it have no significant impact on your vote?

  Aug.
2019
More likely 24%
Less likely 26%
No significant impact 46%
(VOL) Won’t vote 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 3%
(n) (800)

13. If your member of the House of Representatives voted against impeachment, would that make you more likely or less likely to vote for him or her in 2020, or would it have no significant impact on your vote?

  Aug.
2019
More likely 16%
Less likely 28%
No significant impact 51%
(VOL) Won’t vote 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 4%
(n) (800)

[Q14-26 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from August 16 to 20, 2019 with a national random sample of 800 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 314 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 486 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
25% Republican
45% Independent
30% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
30% 18-34
33% 35-54
36% 55+
 
64% White
12% Black
16% Hispanic
  9% Asian/Other
 
68% No degree
32% 4 year degree
  

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs