Skip to main content
ABC News
Both Parties Think The Mueller Report Was Fair. They Just Completely Disagree On What It Says.

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week:

It has been a little over two weeks since special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election was released, and so far the majority of Americans seem to think the report was both fair and accurate. But, as we’ll see, there is still deep disagreement about what Mueller’s findings actually show.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in the week following the report’s release, 51 percent of Americans felt that the report was fair and even-handed while only 21 percent felt that it was not. What’s more, both Democrats and Republicans were equally likely to say the report was fair — 53 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Republicans said so. And a YouGov/Huffpost poll that was conducted right after the report was released found that just over 70 percent of both Democrats and Republicans thought the report was accurate — in each case, about 40 percent thought it was “very” accurate and about 30 percent thought it was “somewhat” accurate.

This may be related to an uptick in the number of Republicans who said they had favorable views of Mueller after March 24, when Attorney General William Barr released a four-page summary of Mueller’s findings. Pollsters like AP-NORC and Marist have found sharp upticks in the number of Republicans who said they thought the investigation was fair after the summary was released. And as you can see in the chart below, Republicans are now more likely to view Mueller’s work favorably — his job approval ratings are now almost equally high among members of either party, though as Republican opinion has gone up, some polls found Democratic opinion dropped slightly.

Much of this change in opinion happened right after Barr’s summary was released — so far, making the full report public does not seem to have shifted opinions about the investigation nearly as much as the summary did.

Moreover, while both Democrats and Republicans generally believe the report was accurate and fair, they don’t seem to agree on its contents, and their perceptions of whether Trump obstructed justice remain largely unchanged. The majority of Republicans believe that Trump did not obstruct justice, while the majority of Democrats believe that he did, according to a series of Washington Post polls, including the most recent one, one conducted after Barr’s summary was released, and one conducted while Mueller’s investigation was still ongoing. Democrats and Republicans also don’t agree on whether the report exonerates Trump. According to the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 61 percent of Republicans and only 6 percent of Democrats think the Mueller report cleared Trump of all wrongdoing.

Opinions on obstruction haven’t changed much

Responses by party to a question asking whether Americans believe Trump interfered with the Mueller investigation in a way that amounted to obstruction of justice

Democrats Republicans
yes no yes no
August 2018 80% 10% 19% 71%
March 2019 80 16 21 77
April 2019 81 10 13 77

Source: Washington Post/ABC and Washington Post/Schar School Polls

Partisans also disagree about what Congress should do now. When asked to choose between four possible next steps, a recent Marist poll found that only 27 percent of Democrats wanted to start impeachment proceedings while 56 percent preferred that Congress continue to investigate potential wrongdoing. The other two options were unpopular with Democrats: 6 percent said Congress should publicly reprimand the president, and 7 percent said that it should take no action. By contrast, 82 percent of Republicans in the poll wanted Congress to take no further action. And that April Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 56 percent of Americans think Congress should not begin impeachment proceedings, which is a 10-point jump from last August. A CNN poll conducted last week also found that a majority of Americans in both parties think Congress should look into why the Justice Department started the inquiry that led to Mueller’s investigation, an action Trump has called for.

Americans — and especially Republicans — seemed to gain faith in Mueller once the investigation ended and Barr’s summary was released, but public opinion does not seem to have changed much since the full report was released. There are still deep partisan divisions about what exactly the report revealed, what it means for the president, and what the path forward should be.

From ABC News:

AG Bill Barr: Mueller’s letter criticizing his summary of report ‘a bit snitty’

Other polling bites

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden officially joined the 2020 presidential race last week, and in four national polls released since his announcement, he has gained an average of 8 points. While this bump will probably fade, it currently reinforces Biden’s status as the early polling front-runner.
  • While it’s easy to get caught up in the 2020 horse race polls of the Democratic primary, Ariel Edwards-Levy of HuffPost reminds us that “undecided” is still the real front-runner. According to a YouGov/HuffPost poll, only 29 percent of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic say they have a good idea of who they will vote for, while 61 percent say they’re still making up their mind.
  • The American Muslim poll, an annual survey conducted by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, asked Americans if they agreed with certain negative stereotypes about Muslims living in the U.S. The poll found that Jewish Americans reported the lowest levels of Islamophobia of any non-Muslim group, lower than religiously unaffiliated people, Catholics, Protestants and white evangelicals.
  • 45 percent of registered voters told CNN that they are “extremely” enthusiastic about voting in the presidential election next year. By contrast, only 22 percent said they were that enthusiastic in July of 2015. CNN has asked this question since the 2004 presidential election cycle and this is the highest percentage of voters who have said they were “extremely” enthusiastic, which may indicate that turnout in the 2020 presidential elections will be higher than usual. The poll did not find a big enthusiasm gap between parties.
  • According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll for the American Psychological Association, 86 percent of American adults agree that people with mental health disorders can get better, and 87 percent say that having a mental health disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. And while the survey found that Americans had generally positive views of people with mental health disorders, it did find that younger adults were more likely to associate mental health issues with stigma than their older peers were.
  • The ongoing political power struggle between Juan Guaidó and Nicolas Maduro for the Venezuelan presidency has created a growing humanitarian crisis that has left only 15 percent of Venezuelans satisfied with the availability of quality health care, according to a Gallup poll. That’s a huge drop from the 72 percent who said they were satisfied in 2006, when Gallup first asked the question. Satisfaction with the availability of health care has rapidly been declining since 2012.
  • Panamanians head to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president, and Laurentino Cortizo of the Democratic Revolutionary Party is currently in the lead in three of the four polls compiled by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. Rómulo Roux of the Democratic Change party leads one of the four polls and is in second place in the other three. Those two leaders are trailed by three other candidates, including a member of the sitting president’s party (the president is legally prohibited from running for a second consecutive term).

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 41.8 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 53.1 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -11.3 points). At this time last week, 41.5 percent approved and 53.1 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -11.6 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 41.9 percent and a disapproval rating of 52.8 percent, for a net approval rating of -10.9 points.

Check out our 2020 polls tracker.

Dhrumil Mehta was a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight.