A new poll shows significant movement in voter attitudes on impeachment as the Ukraine whistleblower scandal unfolds. Despite previous polls showing heavy opposition to impeachment, the new survey shows that voters are now evenly split on whether impeachment proceedings should be initiated against President Trump.
The Politico/Morning Consult poll found that voters were split 43-43 on impeachment with another 13 percent undecided. Politico notes that this reflects an increase of seven points among those who favor impeachment and a decline of six points among opponents from the last poll. The rise in pro-impeachment sentiment was present across the political spectrum.
“As more information has emerged about whistleblower allegations against President Trump, support for impeachment proceedings has grown to its highest point since the beginning of the summer,” said Morning Consult vice president Tyler Sinclair. “This week’s news cycle had a significant impact on Republicans and independents, giving credibility to Democrats' impeachment inquiry. Up from 5 percent last week, 10 percent of Republicans now support beginning impeachment proceedings, while support among independents has reached 39 percent.”
Seventy-nine percent of Democrats were in favor of impeachment.
The new was conducted between September 24-September 26. This was a week after the Washington Post initially broke the story of the whistleblower complaint on September 18 and two days after House Democrats began an impeachment inquiry on September 24. The previous poll was completed on Sunday, September 22, meaning that the large shift in public opinion took place in less than a week. A 13-point shift in four days is a seismic event in polling terms.
Among the voters who favored impeachment, 59 percent cited their main reason for doing so as the belief that “President Trump committed an impeachable offense, such as treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Another 37 percent agreed with the statement, “President Trump has proven he is unfit to serve and should be removed from office, regardless of whether he committed an impeachable offense or not.” The belief that President Trump had committed an impeachable offense increased to 66 percent when the scandal was described.
There is also evidence that the news may get worse for Republicans. Only 32 percent of respondents said that they had heard “a lot” about the unfolding scandal. As more voters become aware of the incident, the public sentiment for impeachment could well continue to rise.
Although the poll surveyed 1,640 registered voters, giving it a margin of error of only two percentage points, it should be viewed cautiously. Polls that show large changes in public opinion over a short time span should be treated skeptically until other polls confirm their results. It is too early to tell whether the new survey is an outlier or a true reflection of a rapid change in public sentiment, but it is extremely likely that the news of the president’s phone call with the Ukrainian president and subsequent alleged attempts to conceal his actions have changed some minds on impeachment.
If public opinion is swinging rapidly based on the new revelations then it drastically changes the political calculus of impeachment. Where many Republicans assumed that impeachment would help the president politically, the opposite may be true given the widespread opinion that Trump’s actions were wrong. Events are still unfolding rapidly, however, and no one can say where they will lead.
Originally published on The Resurgent