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Where The Public Stands On Impeachment One Month In

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

About two weeks ago, we wrote that impeaching President Trump had near-majority support from the American public. This was notable because, at the beginning of October, Americans were about evenly divided on impeachment with just over 45 percent on each side, so there was some question whether this was a new normal or if the numbers would revert to the mean. But so far, support for impeachment hasn’t decreased. According to our impeachment polling tracker, if we look at all the polls, 49.1 percent of Americans support impeachment and 43.5 percent oppose it.

We can also drill down into the different types of questions asked about impeachment. For example, one of the views in our tracker only averages polls that ask Americans if they support beginning the impeachment process, while a separate view averages polls that ask if Americans support Trump’s impeachment and/or removal from office. And right now, there is more support for opening an inquiry than for full-blown impeachment. Currently, 53.1 percent of Americans support beginning the process, while 48.1 percent support impeachment and possible removal.

Support for beginning the impeachment process has been pretty stable, too, since it first shot up to 52.9 percent on Oct. 7. Support has hovered at 52-53 percent, though some of that stability is probably because fewer polls are asking about opening the inquiry. (And I would expect them to eventually taper off completely as the decision to open the inquiry becomes older and older news.)

And a new Quinnipiac poll illustrates some of this. It was the fourth time that Quinnipiac had asked whether Americans supported the impeachment inquiry (it first asked in late September), and it found that a majority of Americans — 55 percent — approve of the inquiry. This result was essentially the same as the previous times they asked: Approval of the inquiry has fluctuated slightly between 51 and 55 percent, while disapproval has remained stuck between 43 and 45 percent.

Support for impeaching and removing the president from office has also been relatively stable in Quinnipiac’s polling. The most recent poll found the country essentially evenly divided on whether Trump should be “impeached and removed from office” — 48 percent said he should be while 46 percent said he shouldn’t be, a gap that’s within the poll’s margin of error. Those numbers have only moved a couple points in either direction since the end of September. That said, our polling average suggests that support for impeachment may still be ticking upward. The increase since the beginning of the month has been slow but steady. As of Thursday night, 48.1 percent of Americans support impeachment and potential removal in our tracker’s average, while 43.7 percent oppose it.

Indeed, net support for impeachment and potential removal is higher in our average than in Quinnipiac’s polling. Our average is more in line with a CNN/SSRS poll released this week that found a full 50 percent of Americans said they believed Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 43 percent didn’t feel that way.

But arguably the more important measurement to look at is Trump’s approval rating. And at the beginning of October, Trump’s approval rating appeared to sharply decline as the Ukraine scandal unfolded. But his rating has not continued to plummet. Instead, it remains within the same narrow range that it has occupied for most of the year. However, it has slumped to the very bottom edge of that range. Currently, 40.6 percent of Americans approve of Trump and 54.6 percent disapprove — his worst numbers since February. So even if the bottom hasn’t dropped out, it’s possible that current events are keeping his popularity depressed.

Mind you, those events aren’t just limited to impeachment. Over the past two weeks, Trump has ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from their position defending Kurdish forces in Syria, and he proposed (then backtracked on) holding the next G-7 summit at his own resort in Florida. These actions drew rare rebukes from members of Trump’s own party, perhaps anticipating that Americans would find them especially serious (or signaling to the public that Trump had crossed a line).

But we’ve seen this movie enough times before to know that Trump’s approval rating might just as quickly perk back up next week. The current drop in Trump’s popularity may or may not be meaningful, but for now, recent events certainly aren’t doing him any favors politically. Indeed, if impeachment support continues to rise, it could be a rough winter for President Trump.

Other polling bites

  • Interestingly, even though the CNN/SSRS poll shows that Americans support impeaching Trump, that doesn’t mean they approve of how Congress is going about it. Only 43 percent approve of the way Democrats in Congress are handling the impeachment inquiry, while 49 percent disapprove. However, the numbers are much worse for Republicans in Congress: just 30 percent approve of the way they’re handling the inquiry and 57 percent disapprove. And Americans say, 50 percent to 40 percent, that Republicans oppose impeachment because they are out to protect Trump at all costs, not because they believe he did not commit impeachable offenses.
  • A final tidbit from that very meaty CNN/SSRS poll: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s net favorability rating (favorable rating minus unfavorable rating) is just -2, which is a big improvement from her typical standing in recent years (for example, in September 2017, it was -21). In fact, Pelosi’s net favorability rating is the highest it’s been in CNN/SSRS’s polling since January 2009, which certainly suggests coming out for impeachment hasn’t hurt her.
  • This week, we got our first nonpartisan poll of the Mississippi governor’s race since July. According to Mason-Dixon Polling, Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves leads Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood just 46 percent to 43 percent. The election is on Nov. 5.
  • While national polls indicate that granting statehood to Washington, D.C., is unpopular with the public, a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll finds that Maryland residents support it, 51 percent to 40 percent. What they don’t want is retrocession, an alternative proposal to enfranchise Washingtonians by re-combining the District with Maryland. Marylanders oppose that idea 57 percent to 36 percent.
  • According to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, 55 percent of Republicans whose primary news source is Fox News say there is nothing that Trump could do to lose their approval. Only 29 percent of Republicans whose primary news source is not Fox News say that. PRRI also told The Washington Post that 71 percent of Fox-favoring Republicans strongly approve of Trump’s job performance, while only 39 percent of non-Fox-favoring Republicans do.
  • The World Series started on Tuesday, and according to an Ipsos poll conducted before Game 1, 46 percent of Americans planned to follow along. Of them, 37 percent were root, root, rooting for the Washington Nationals,1 while 33 percent wanted the Houston Astros to win2 (28 percent have no preference). However, Series watchers thought the Astros would win, 55 percent to 23 percent — although that was before the Nationals won the first two games of the seven-game series.
  • You may be too old to go trick-or-treating, but there’s another way to get your hands on those sweet, sweet Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. According to a YouGov poll, 74 percent of parents of children under 18 say they steal at least a few pieces of candy from their kids’ Halloween hauls. Four percent even say they eat all of it — now that’s scary.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 40.6 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 54.6 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -14 points). At this time last week, 41.6 percent approved and 54.0 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -12.4 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 43.1 percent and a disapproval rating of 53.0 percent, for a net approval rating of -9.9 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 6.3 percentage points (46.6 percent to 40.3 percent). Those numbers are unchanged from a week ago. At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 6.8 points (46.8 percent to 40.0 percent).

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.

Footnotes

  1. Including this reporter.

  2. Editor’s note: Including this editor.

Nathaniel Rakich is FiveThirtyEight’s elections analyst.

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