For the second time in his presidency, the House of Representatives looks set to impeach President Trump — this time over his role in inciting a violent mob to attack the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday. And public support for removing Trump from office may be higher now than it was during the previous impeachment proceedings.
So far, we’ve identified 13 poll questions (fielded in nine discrete polls) that have asked some version of a yes-or-no question about whether Trump should leave office before his term is up. A weighted average of these polls, accounting for their quality, recency and sample size, finds that 52 percent of Americans support Trump’s ouster, while only 42 percent oppose it. By contrast, throughout last fall and winter, support for removing Trump from office over the Ukraine scandal consistently hovered around 47 or 48 percent in our impeachment polling tracker. This isn’t a huge difference, and it’s early yet; we still haven’t gotten a ton of high-quality polls on this question. But it’s not good news for Trump and the final days of his presidency.
As you might expect, Democrats are the most eager to see Trump’s term cut short: 82 percent support it and only 13 percent oppose it. That’s about equivalent to the share of Democrats who supported Trump’s removal amid his impeachment at this time last year. Notably, however, independents and Republicans are both a little more more supportive of Trump’s removal now than they were a year ago. Currently, 47 percent of independents support Trump’s departure,1 up from about 42 percent last year. And during the 2019-2020 impeachment, only about 8-10 percent of Republicans supported Trump’s removal; now, an average of 15 percent of Republicans support Trump leaving office early (with 80 percent opposed).
It’s important to note that, during the last impeachment, we found that how a poll question was worded, or what stage of the process it asked about, could affect how many people said they supported it. For example, support for beginning an impeachment inquiry was consistently a bit higher than support for actually impeaching or removing Trump. (As a refresher, the House of Representatives impeaches the president — the political equivalent of an indictment — with a simple majority vote, putting him on trial before the Senate. A two-thirds vote in the Senate is required to convict the president, and a conviction would remove him from office.)
However, this time around, the preponderance of polls suggest that the people who want Trump out of office don’t much care about how that’s accomplished. So far, an average of 49 percent of Americans support Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet removing Trump from office by invoking the 25th Amendment — which they can do by informing Congress that the president can’t perform his duties — though so far we only have two polls asking that question.2 A similar 51 percent of Americans, in an average based on five polls,3 answered in the affirmative to more generic poll questions about Trump’s removal that didn’t specify the means of his departure. And an average of 53 percent were supportive of four poll questions that mentioned impeachment.4 Finally, the one pollster so far (Quinnipiac) that has asked whether Trump should resign found that 53 percent of Americans support that idea too.
A couple polls, though, suggest that Americans might be most comfortable using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office rather than ushering him out some other way. (The 25th Amendment may also be the safest choice politically — which might explain why the House plans to vote on a resolution urging Pence to invoke the 25th before voting on articles of impeachment.) An Ipsos/Reuters poll asked respondents which of four scenarios they preferred: 30 percent said Trump “should be immediately removed from office using the 25th Amendment”; 14 percent said he “should be impeached and removed from office by Congress”; and 13 percent said he “should resign from the presidency.” (The remaining 43 percent said he should serve out the rest of his term.) And a Morning Consult/Politico poll likewise found that registered voters were a bit more open to removal via the 25th Amendment than to impeachment. Respondents supported invoking the 25th Amendment 49 percent to 37 percent, but they were split, 44 percent to 43 percent, over whether Congress should “begin impeachment proceedings to remove President Trump from office.”
At this point, it’s unclear whether Trump will be removed from office, but it does seem as if public opinion, at this early stage, leans toward his removal. We’ll be keeping an eye on the polls to see how that changes — if at all — and whether public preferences coalesce around any one method of removal.
Aaron Bycoffe and Mary Radcliffe contributed research.