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Split Decision on Impeachment Vote; Most Say It’s Time to Move On

Monday, Feb. 10, 2020

Little change in opinion of Trump or faith in the system

West Long Branch, NJ – Americans render a split decision on the impeachment acquittal of President Donald Trump, according to the Monmouth University Poll. However, most say the Senate’s handling of the trial was unfair, particularly the decision not to call witnesses. At the same time, a majority feels it is time to end all impeachment investigations and move on. Key metrics in public opinion of the president himself – including Trump’s job rating and whether he has “drained the swamp” – have remained stable throughout the process, with a majority of Republicans maintaining that Trump never did anything wrong. Many Americans say the impeachment process lessened their faith in our system of government, but most continue to believe the system is basically sound.

The poll finds that 49% of the public approves and 47% disapproves of the Senate’s decision to acquit Trump and not remove him from office. This split is very similar to results of a Monmouth poll released the day before the trial started, when 49% said the Senate should remove Trump from office and 48% said it should not. However, public opinion on the current verdict is less positive than it was for the outcome of former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in February 1999, when more than 6 in 10 Americans agreed with the decision to acquit (e.g. 63% Pew Research Center, 64% Gallup/CNN, 64% Washington Post).

“We went into the impeachment process with a sharply divided public and we come out of it with a sharply divided public,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The impeachment trial – like pretty much every other event or incident during the Trump presidency – has had little impact on public opinion of the incumbent. Trump’s job rating stands at 44% approve and 50% disapprove, which is statistically indistinguishable from his 43%-52% rating last month. Over the past 12 months, Trump’s approval has ranged from 40% to 44% in Monmouth’s polling, while disapproval has ranged from 50% to 54%.

The trial ends with 46% of Americans saying that Trump’s actions as outlined in the House charges definitely rose to the level of impeachment, 30% saying that some of Trump’s actions were improper but not impeachable, and 22% saying that Trump did nothing wrong at all. Among Republicans, 56% believe there was nothing wrong in the president’s actions as described in the impeachment charges, 36% say his actions were improper but not impeachable, and just 5% feel they were grounds for impeachment.

“Where you fall on impeachment may be a litmus test of party loyalty now. The majority of Republicans seem to side with Trump’s claim that his Ukraine call was perfect. Those who agree with Mitt Romney are in a miniscule minority, but even people like Lamar Alexander and Susan Collins, who questioned the president’s behavior, find themselves outside the mainstream as Trump coalesces partisan allegiance around him,” said Murray.

Few Americans (35%) feel that the Senate trial was conducted fairly. Most (58%) say it was generally unfair, including 72% of Democrats, 55% of independents, and 42% of Republicans.  Just before the trial got underway, a larger number (46%) expected it would be conducted fairly and a smaller number (43%) believed it would be unfair. A key sticking point in negative public opinion on how the trial was run is the Senate’s decision not to call witnesses. Just 36% approve of this move and 59% disapprove of holding the trial without any witnesses.

Despite negative opinion about the trial, just over half of the public (51%) continues to approve of the House decision to impeach Trump in the first place, while 46% disapproves. This is basically unchanged from Monmouth’s January poll taken right before the Senate trial started, when 53% approved and 46% disapproved of the House impeachment vote. However, the Senate trial seems to have dampened positive opinion on how the initial House investigation was conducted. Before the trial started, 52% of the public thought the House inquiry was generally fair and 44% said it was unfair. That opinion has now flipped, with just 43% saying the House inquiry was fair and 52% saying it was unfair. This movement comes largely from Democrats, who went from just 5% saying it was unfair before the trial to 27% who feel this way now.

“The trial raised significant questions about how quickly the House moved its investigation. This appears to have some Democrats now second-guessing the decision not to subpoena witnesses and gather more evidence before approving articles of impeachment,” said Murray.

Most Americans want to put impeachment behind them according to the poll. Just 43% support the House continuing to investigate the Ukraine incident by calling new witnesses such as John Bolton, while 51% say the Ukraine investigation should end. Furthermore, only 44% say the House should investigate Trump on other impeachable offenses while 52% say all such impeachment investigations should come to an end. The public is divided on an idea floated by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to have the Senate censure Trump for his actions – 44% approve of a censure vote and 46% disapprove.

“There is not a huge appetite, except among Democrats, to keep the impeachment flame alive at this point. Most Americans say it is time to move on,” said Murray.

Nearly half (48%) of the public says the impeachment process decreased their faith in the American system of government, while just 6% says it increased their faith in the system. Another 43% say impeachment did not impact their belief in our system either way.  These results are fairly similar across all partisan groups. Overall, a majority of Americans (55%) believe the American system of government is basically sound – including 9% who say it needs no changes and 46% who say it needs some improvements – while another 24% say it is not too sound and needs many improvements and 21% say it is not sound at all and requires significant changes.  These results are similar to a Monmouth poll from November 2018 when 52% said the system was sound, 26% not too sound, and 22% not at all sound.  Forty years ago, an Opinion Research Corporation poll found that 62% of the public thought the American system was sound, 27% not too sound, and just 10% not at all sound.

The Monmouth University Poll finds very little movement in other benchmark ratings as well. Currently, 20% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing and 69% disapprove. This is down just slightly from its 24%-62% rating last month. Also, just over one-third (37%) of the public feels the country is going in the right direction and 57% says it is on the wrong track, which is in line with the 37%-56% result in last month’s poll.  Just over 1 in 5 Americans (22%) say they feel angry when they think about Washington, 61% feel dissatisfied and just 12% feel positive (9% satisfied and 3% happy). These results track closely with polls conducted since the 2016 election.

There is also little movement on the question of Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Currently, 33% say he has made progress in this area, which is similar to 30% who said the same in November 2019. At the same time, 34% say Trump has actually made the swamp worse, which is similar to 37% last fall. Another 28% say that nothing has really changed in Washington’s “swamp,” which tracks closely with 25% who said the same in November.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from February 6 to 9, 2020 with 902 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.3 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: Feb.
2020
Jan.
2020
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
April
2019
March
2019
Jan.
2019
Approve 44% 43% 43% 43% 41% 40% 41% 40% 40% 44% 41%
Disapprove 50% 52% 50% 51% 53% 53% 50% 52% 54% 51% 54%
(VOL) No opinion 5% 5% 8% 6% 6% 7% 9% 8% 6% 5% 5%
(n) (902) (903) (903) (908) (1,161) (800) (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
Approve 43% 43% 43% 41% 39% 42% 32% 40% 41% 39% 39% 43%
Disapprove 49% 50% 46% 50% 54% 50% 56% 49% 49% 52% 53% 46%
(VOL) No opinion 8% 7% 11% 9% 8% 8% 12% 11% 10% 9% 8% 11%
(n) (802) (805) (806) (803) (803) (806) (806) (1,009) (805) (800) (1,002) (801)

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

  TREND: Feb.
2020
Jan.
2020
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
April
2019
March
2019
Jan.
2019
Approve 20% 24% 22% 23% 21% 17% 19% 20% 24% 23% 18%
Disapprove 69% 62% 65% 64% 68% 71% 69% 71% 62% 68% 72%
(VOL) No opinion 11% 14% 13% 13% 11% 13% 12% 9% 14% 9% 10%
(n) (902) (903) (903) (908) (1,161) (800) (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: Feb.
2020
Jan.
2020
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
April
2019
March
2019
Nov.
2018
Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Right direction 37% 37% 32% 30% 30% 28% 31% 29% 28% 29% 35% 35% 40% 33% 31% 37%
Wrong track 57% 56% 56% 61% 61% 62% 62% 63% 62% 63% 55% 57% 53% 58% 61% 57%
(VOL) Depends 6% 6% 8% 7% 6% 8% 6% 4% 7% 6% 7% 6% 3% 5% 6% 3%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1% 4% 2% 2% 2% 2% 3% 3% 2% 3% 3% 3% 4% 1% 3%
(n) (902) (903) (903) (908) (1,161) (800) (751) (802) (801) (802) (802) (805) (806) (803) (803) (806)
  TREND: Continued Dec.
2017
Aug.
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Jan.
2017
Aug.
2016*
Oct.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Right direction 24% 32% 31% 35% 29% 30% 24% 28% 23% 27% 23% 28%
Wrong track 66% 58% 61% 56% 65% 65% 66% 63% 68% 66% 69% 63%
(VOL) Depends 7% 4% 5% 4% 4% 2% 6% 5% 5% 5% 5% 5%
(VOL) Don’t know 3% 5% 3% 5% 2% 3% 4% 3% 3% 2% 3% 4%
(n) (806) (805) (1,002) (801) (801) (803) (1,012) (1,001) (1,002) (1,005) (1,008) (1,012)

      * Registered voters

[Q4 held for future release.]

5. Which of the following words best describes how you feel about Washington – angry, dissatisfied, satisfied, happy?

   TREND: Feb.
2020
Nov.
2018
March
2018
Dec.
2017
May
2017
Sept.
2016*
 Angry 22% 19% 22% 20% 25% 20%
 Dissatisfied 61% 62% 59% 60% 54% 66%
 Satisfied 9% 12% 12% 12% 16% 9%
 Happy 3% 3% 4% 3% 2% 3%
 (VOL) Don’t know 5% 3% 3% 6% 2% 2%
(n) (902) (802) (803) (806) (1,002) (802)

      * Registered voters

6. I’m going to read four statements about our American system of government. Listen carefully and then tell me which one is closest to how you feel: our system of government is basically sound and essentially needs no changes, our system is basically sound, but needs some improvement, our system is not too sound and needs many improvements, or our system is not sound at all and needs significant changes?

 TREND: Feb.
2020
Nov.
2018
Dec.
2017
Nov.
1980*
Basically sound, no changes 9% 10% 7% 6%
Basically sound, some improvement 46% 42% 43% 56%
Not too sound, many improvements 24% 26% 25% 27%
Not sound at all, significant changes 21% 22% 24% 10%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1% 2% 1%
 (n) (902) (802) (806) (1,103)

      * Source: Opinion Research Corporation

7. Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” when he got to Washington. Would you say that he has made progress draining the swamp, that he has made the swamp worse, or that nothing has really changed?

TREND: Feb.
2020
Nov.
2019
June
2019
Nov.
2018
April
2018
Dec.
2017
Aug.
2017
May
2017
Made progress draining the swamp 33% 30% 23% 30% 25% 20% 25% 24%
Made the swamp worse 34% 37% 32% 30% 31% 33% 26% 32%
Nothing has really changed 28% 25% 35% 33% 37% 38% 39% 35%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 8% 9% 6% 7% 9% 10% 8%
(n) (902) (908) (751) (802) (803) (806) (805) (1,002)

[Q8-11 held for future release.]

12. Do you approve or disapprove of the Senate’s decision to acquit Donald Trump and not remove him from the presidency?

  Feb.
2020
Approve 49%
Disapprove 47%
(VOL) Don’t know 5%
(n) (902)

13. Which of the following comes closest to how you feel about the impeachment charges: A. Trump did nothing wrong; B. Some of Trump’s actions were improper, but they did not rise to the level of impeachment; or C. Trump’s actions were definitely grounds for impeachment?

  Feb.
2020
A. Trump did nothing wrong 22%
B. Some of Trump’s actions were improper,
but they did not rise to the level of impeachment
30%
C. Trump’s actions were definitely grounds for impeachment 46%
(VOL) Don’t know 2%
(n) (902)

14. Would you approve or disapprove of the Senate voting to censure Donald Trump for his actions?

  Feb.
2020
Approve 44%
Disapprove 46%
(VOL) Don’t know 10%
(n) (902)

15. Do you feel the way the Senate impeachment trial was conducted was generally fair or unfair?

TREND: Feb.
2020
Jan.
2020*
Fair 35% 46%
Unfair 58% 43%
(VOL) Don’t know 7% 11%
(n) (902) (903)

* Question wording: “… Senate impeachment trial is likely to be conducted…”

16. Do you approve or disapprove of the Senate’s decision not to call any witnesses at the impeachment trial?

  Feb.
2020
Approve 36%
Disapprove 59%
(VOL) Don’t know 5%
(n) (902)

17. Do you approve or disapprove of the House of Representatives decision to impeach President Trump in the first place?

TREND: Feb.
2020
Jan.
2020
Approve 51% 53%
Disapprove 46% 46%
(VOL) Don’t know 2% 1%
(n) (902) (903)

18. Do you feel the way the House impeachment inquiry was conducted was generally fair or unfair?

TREND: Feb.
2020
Jan.
2020
Fair 43% 52%
Unfair 52% 44%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 4%
(n) (902) (903)

19. Do you think the House should continue to investigate the Ukraine incident by calling new witnesses such as John Bolton, or should it end the Ukraine investigation?

  Feb.
2020
Continue to investigate 43%
End Ukraine investigation 51%
(VOL) Don’t know 6%
(n) (902)

20. Do you think the House should investigate Donald Trump on other impeachable offenses or should it end all such investigations?

  Feb.
2020
Investigate on other offenses 44%
End all investigations 52%
(VOL) Don’t know 4%
(n) (902)

21. Has the impeachment process increased or decreased your faith in the American system of government or has it not changed your faith either way?

  Feb.
2020
Increased 6%
Decreased 48%
Not changed 43%
(VOL) Don’t know 3%
(n) (902)

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from February 6 to 9, 2020 with a national random sample of 902 adults age 18 and older. This includes 362 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 540 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. 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. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). 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 3.3 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
27% Republican
42% Independent
31% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
30% 18-34
33% 35-54
36% 55+
 
64% White
12% Black
16% Hispanic
  7% 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