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Impeachment Support Inches Up

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Public finds little new info in Cohen testimony

West Long Branch, NJ – President Donald Trump’s job approval rating remains stable but support for impeachment proceedings has ticked up in the latest national Monmouth University Poll.  The recent congressional testimony of Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer, has not moved the needle all that much mainly because few people learned anything new, but it seems to have given rise to some doubts for Trump defenders. The public is divided as to Cohen’s honesty, but most believe his claim that the president reimbursed him for hush money payments. The poll also finds that neither political party’s House membership came off particularly well in last week’s hearing, but the public still wants oversight of the president to be a priority for Congress.

Trump’s overall job rating stands at 44% approve and 51% disapprove. This is virtually unchanged from his 41%-54% standing in late January and his 43%-49% rating in November. The president’s job rating among different partisan groups stands at 86% approve and 10% disapprove among Republicans, 42%-49% among independents, and 10%-88% among Democrats.

The poll finds that 42% of Americans feel that Trump should be impeached and compelled to leave the presidency while 54% disagree. Support for impeachment of Trump has risen slightly since November, when 36% favored impeachment and 59% did not. Previous polls showed support for Trump’s impeachment ranging between 38% and 41%.  The change since last fall has come largely from political independents. Currently, 40% of independents support impeachment and 57% are opposed. Four months ago, only 26% of independents supported impeachment and 67% were opposed.  Partisan opinion on impeachment currently stands at 75% support to 19% oppose among Democrats and 8% to 91% among Republicans.

“The president’s job approval rating hasn’t budged all that much as both sides of the partisan divide continue to dig in. But the fact that more independents are starting to question Trump’s fitness for office could be a sign of trouble, if not for impeachment itself than for his re-election prospects in 2020,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. [Note: Monmouth uses the same impeachment question that Gallup asked about Richard Nixon as Watergate unfolded. Support for Nixon’s removal started out at 19% on this question in June 1973 and reached 38% in November 1973 after the special Watergate prosecutor was fired in what became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.”]

In general, just under half of the public (48%) believe that Trump has personally asked people to mislead government investigators or Congress, while 36% believe he has not done this. These results are similar to January, when 50% said Trump had directed people to lie on his behalf and 42% said he had not done this. The number of Americans who are unsure if Trump did this has risen from 8% to 15%. Regardless of whether he personally ordered any cover up, 59% of the public say that Trump was aware that people associated with his campaign misled investigators, which is down slightly from 62% who said the same in January. At the same time, the number who state Trump was not aware of these efforts has declined somewhat more – from 32% to 27% – while the number who say they are unsure if Trump was aware has increased – from 6% to 13%.

“There doesn’t seem to be much in the Cohen testimony that raised new questions for the vast majority of Americans. But this small shift toward expressing no opinion could indicate a crack as doubts emerge among some Trump defenders. It could also revert back to support for the president as future news cycles turn our attention elsewhere,” said Murray.

Only 3-in-10 Americans (29%) think that any new information could come out about Trump that would significantly change public views of him, while 2-in-3 (67%) feel that people are set in their opinions regardless of what new information may come out.  In line with this, few Americans (27%) feel they learned anything new from Michael Cohen’s public appearance before a congressional committee last week. Another 49% say it was all information we had before, while the remainder are unsure if anything new was uncovered (7%) or say they did not follow news about the hearing (17%).

Public opinion is divided on how honest Cohen was before Congress, with just under 4-in-10 saying he was completely (12%) or mostly (25%) honest and 4-in-10 saying he was just partly (24%) or not at all (16%) honest.  Still, most Americans (54%) believe Cohen’s claim that Trump reimbursed him for hush money payments to hide an affair. Only 12% of the public say Trump did not do this, with the remainder being unsure (17%) or not having followed the hearing (17%).  Among those who say they heard a lot about Cohen’s testimony – representing nearly half of the American public – 69% believe Trump reimbursed Cohen.

The hearing put a spotlight on Congress as much as it did on Cohen. Neither party’s representatives performed all that well in the court of public opinion, although the Democrats fared slightly better than the Republicans. Nearly half of the public (46%) feel that Democratic members of the House committee were more interested in undermining Trump, while 31% say they were more interested in uncovering the truth. On the other side of the aisle, 48% say that Republicans on the House committee were more interested in defending Trump, while only 22% say they were more interested in uncovering the truth. Among those who have heard a lot about the Cohen hearings, 43% say the Democrats were more interested in uncovering the truth, while only 26% say the same about the Republicans.

A majority of Americans (52%) say that keeping President Trump in check should be a major priority for Congress.  Another 21% say this should be a minor priority and 24% say this should not be a priority at all. These results are nearly identical to when Monmouth asked this question about the newly elected Congress in November – 52% major priority, 20% minor priority, and 25% not a priority.  Currently, 83% of Democrats (up from 78% in November) and 53% of independents (up from 47%) say that Congress being a check on the president should be a major priority, while only 15% of Republicans agree (down from 25%).

“There is a performance art element to these public hearings that the public reacts against. Still, most people feel congressional oversight is a necessary check on the president. We’ll see if they continue to feel this way as the House investigation widens,” said Murray.

A majority of the public (53%) say that the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links with the Trump campaign should continue, while 43% say it should wrap up.  Opinion in January on the Mueller probe stood at 51% continue and 45% end. Support for continuing the probe has ranged between 51% and 54% since April 2018, although it was higher in March 2018 (60%) and July 2017 (62%).

The Monmouth University Poll also finds that 23% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing and 68% disapprove. These results are in the range of polls taken just after Dems took control of the House in January (18% approve – 72% disapprove) and just after the midterm elections in November (23%-63%).  The poll also finds that just 29% say the country is headed in the right direction, while 63% say things have gotten off on the wrong track.  This view is more negative than Monmouth’s last reading in November (35%-55%), marking the first time in more than a year that the “right direction” number has dipped below 3-in-10. It stood at 24% right direction and 66% wrong track in December 2017.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from March 1 to 4, 2019 with 802 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:March 2019Jan.
2019
Nov.
2018
Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Dec.
2017
Sept.
2017
Aug.
2017
July
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Approve44%41%43%43%43%41%39%42%32%40%41%39%39%43%
Disapprove51%54%49%50%46%50%54%50%56%49%49%52%53%46%
(VOL) No opinion5%5%8%7%11%9%8%8%12%11%10%9%8%11%
(n)(802)(805)(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:March
2019
Jan.
2019
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
Approve23%18%23%17%19%17%18%21%16%17%18%19%19%25%23%
Disapprove68%72%63%69%67%71%72%68%65%69%69%70%68%59%66%
(VOL) No opinion9%10%14%14%14%12%11%11%19%15%13%11%13%16%11%
(n)(802)(805)(802)(805)(806)(803)(803)(806)(806)(1,009)(805)(800)(1,002)(801)(801)
TREND: ContinuedSept.
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
Approve15%14%17%22%17%16%17%19%18%18%19%21%18%17%14%
Disapprove77%78%76%68%73%73%71%71%72%69%71%67%70%73%76%
(VOL) No opinion8%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: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 direction29%35%35%40%33%31%37%24%32%31%35%29%
Wrong track63%55%57%53%58%61%57%66%58%61%56%65%
(VOL) Depends6%7%6%3%5%6%3%7%4%5%4%4%
(VOL) Don’t know2%3%3%3%4%1%3%3%5%3%5%2%
(n)(802)(802)(805)(806)(803)(803)(806)(806)(805)(1,002)(801)(801)
TREND: ContinuedAug.
2016*
Oct.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Right direction30%24%28%23%27%23%28%
Wrong track65%66%63%68%66%69%63%
(VOL) Depends2%6%5%5%5%5%5%
(VOL) Don’t know3%4%3%3%2%3%4%
(n)(803)(1,012)(1,001)(1,002)(1,005)(1,008)(1,012)

* Registered voters

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

TREND:March
2019
Nov.
2018
April
2018
Jan.
2018
July
2017
Yes, should42%36%39%38%41%
No, should not54%59%56%57%53%
(VOL) Don’t know4%5%5%4%6%
(n)(802)(802)(803)(806)(800)

5. A special counsel is currently conducting an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links with the Trump campaign. Should the Russia investigation continue or should it end?

TREND:March
2019
Jan.
2019
Nov.
2018
Aug.
2018
June
2018
April
2018
March
2018
July
2017
May
2017*
Continue53%51%54%52%52%54%60%62%73%
End43%45%43%46%45%43%37%33%24%
(VOL) Don’t know4%3%3%2%3%3%3%5%3%
(n)(802)(805)(802)(805)(806)(803)(803)(800)(1,002)

*May ’17 Question was asked about the then-ongoing FBI investigation

[Q6 & 7 held for future release.]

8. Should keeping President Trump in check be a major priority, minor priority, or not a priority of Congress?

TREND:March
2019
Nov.
2018
Major priority52%52%
Minor priority21%20%
Not a priority24%25%
(VOL) Don’t know3%4%
(n)(802)(802)

*Nov. ’18 Question wording was: “of the new Congress”

[Q9-15 held for future release.]

16. President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testified before Congress on Wednesday. How much have you heard about his testimony – a lot, a little, or nothing at all?

 March
2019
A lot47%
A little36%
Nothing at all17%
(n)(802)

17. How honest do you think Michael Cohen was in his testimony before the House committee – completely honest, mostly honest, just partly honest, or not at all honest?

 March
2019
Completely honest12%
Mostly honest25%
Just partly honest24%
Not at all honest16%
(VOL) Don’t know6%
Not aware (from Q16)17%
(n)(802)

[QUESTIONS 18 & 19 WERE ROTATED]

18. Do you think the Republican members of the House committee were more interested in getting at the truth or more interested in defending Trump no matter what the facts showed?

 March
2019
More interested in getting at the truth22%
More interested in defending Trump48%
(VOL) Depends4%
(VOL) Don’t know8%
Not aware (from Q16)17%
(n)(802)

19. Do you think the Democratic members of the House committee were more interested in getting at the truth or more interested in undermining Trump no matter what the facts showed?

 March
2019
More interested in getting at the truth31%
More interested in undermining Trump46%
(VOL) Depends3%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
Not aware (from Q16)17%
(n)(802)

20. Do you think we learned anything new from this hearing, or is it all information we had before?

 March
2019
Learned anything new27%
Information we had before49%
(VOL) Don’t know7%
Not aware (from Q16)17%
(n)(802)

21. Cohen claims that Trump reimbursed him for paying off a porn star during the 2016 campaign to hide an extra-marital affair. Do you think Trump reimbursed Cohen for this or not?

 March
2019
Trump reimbursed Cohen for this54%
Trump did not reimburse Cohen for this12%
(VOL) Don’t know17%
Not aware (from Q16)17%
(n)(802)

22. Do you think Donald Trump did or did not personally ask anyone to mislead government investigators or Congress on his business dealings or Russian interference in the election?

TREND:March
2019
Jan.
2019
Did48%50%
Did not36%42%
(VOL) Don’t know15%8%
(n)(802)(805)

23. Even if he did not personally ask them to, do you think Donald Trump was or was not aware of people associated with his campaign trying to mislead government investigators or Congress?

TREND:March
2019
Jan.
2019
Was aware59%62%
Was not aware27%32%
(VOL) Don’t know13%6%
(n)(802)(805)

24. In general, do you think there is any new information that could ever come out about President Trump that would significantly change public opinion of him, or do you think people are set in their opinions regardless of what new information may come out?

 March
2019
Information could come out to change public opinion29%
People are set in their opinions regardless67%
(VOL) Don’t know4%
(n)(802)

[Q25-36 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from March 1 to 4, 2019 with a national random sample of 802 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 322 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 480 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 SSI (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

26% Republican
43% Independent
31% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
30% 18-34
34% 35-54
36% 55+
 
63% White
13% Black
16% Hispanic

  9% Asian/Other

 
69% No degree
31% 4 year degree
  

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

Download this Poll Report with all tables