The Demographics of Impeachment

A deeper breakdown of who supports impeachment & who doesn't

a Trendency Research feature

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As we mentioned in our first installment of Tracking Changes Opinions around Impeachment, the news cycles have been coming fast and furious. Two associates of Rudy Giuliani were arrested on campaign finance charges, and it appears that the former Mayor may be under federal investigation as well. The President also removed troops from Syria, and Turkey started military strikes in the area. Recent testimony from Trump administration Ukraine envoy William Taylor before House investigators is viewed as being the most vivid to date.

These news events have had an effect on how Americans are viewing the impeachment inquiry of the President. Indeed, there has been a small decline in opposition to impeachment (from 38 percent to 36 percent) which represents the lowest level of opposition since Trendency started tracking opinions on this issue. However, average support for impeachment remains the same, and there has been a slight increase in voters’ allocation of “don’t know.”

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In this installment, we are going to take a closer look at the demographics that are driving these changes. We take a deeper look at how gender, race, education, and surprisingly, age play a significant role in the changes as more information becomes available to the public at-large. While some of the results didn’t surprise us – there were some shocking and clear trends that we found fascinating.

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As we look at how race affects these numbers, we see that support for impeachment has risen among both white voters and voters of color since the beginning of news breaking about the phone call President Trump had with his counterpart in Ukraine.

Support was already higher among people of color, but the gap closed slightly at the beginning of October. This was a temporary dip however, and the general direction has been one of growing support for impeachment. From September 23rd to last Friday (October 11th) support increased nine percentage points among people of color. As the graph above shows, support among white people rose six points over the same time period. Among white voters the overall trend was also on the upswing, however we are seeing the average allocation head lower each day since October 9th.

Not noted on this graph, but of interest, is the number of respondents selecting “don’t know” on supporting or opposing impeachment. People of color started around 19 percent, while white people started a bit lower at 13 percent. People of color ended the period dropping to 14 percent and white people dropping to 11 percent.

When we look at gender, we also see some interesting differences. The chart below shows the overall make-up of support for impeachment. The dark blue represents those that strongly support impeachment, while the dark red represents those that do not support it at all. The share of men who do not support the impeachment inquiry has dropped from 44 percent on September 23, down to 34 percent last week. At the same time, those strongly supporting has increased by 11 points (31 percent to 42 percent).

Among women we see a steadier state. On September 23rd, 40 percent of women were strong supporters of impeachment and that number has grown to 44 percent. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the change in concentration of those not supporting the inquiry only dropped a point over this time.

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One of the most notable differences between men and women is the number of people who are noncommittal. Using our two lean categories, we see that currently 25 percent of men fall into one of these two categories, compared to just 14 percent of women. Interestingly, the percent in these middle categories has not shifted as much as those strongly supporting or opposing. Said in another way women have been more decisive in their feelings from the beginning, while men’s opinions are more volatile

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Support for impeachment has also taken different paths over the last couple weeks depending on whether you are looking at voters with a college degree and those without. Both groups had a sharp drop around October 2nd, with support rising again around President Trump’s press conference about China. However, while individuals with a college degree’s support continued trending upwards, those without a college degree peaked and then returned to almost their starting level of support.

Prior to news of the impeachment inquiry breaking on September 24th, non-college support was a percentage point higher than that of college-educated individuals. However, as news events unfolded throughout the following few days, support for impeachment rose steadily among college-educated voters compared to those without a college education. The same thing can be seen around October 3rd and October 10th where news events tended to increase support levels among those with a college degree while they had the opposite effect on those without.  

If we put these demographic groups together, we see some interesting patterns emerge. Support among these groups has not been consistent. In the chart below, we take a look at the difference between support and opposition. Net support is indicated in the positive, the opposition is indicated with a net negative score. When we look at college-educated white men, we see a significant jump in support, from a difference of -11 percent to a net positive of 15 percent. A massive 26-point swing.

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College educated white women were the only group in this set of demographics that began with a net level of support and ended the same way. However, it should be mentioned that we are seeing a decline among this cohort over the past three or four days.

The only group to see a swing towards opposition was that of non-college white women. This group was split right down the middle when it came to their support or opposition of impeachment proceedings. This cohort has also shown high levels of volatility throughout the news cycles. While we see that they’ve bounced back and forth, and show no clear pattern, they currently are opposed to impeachment by a net of 8 points.

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As we alluded to earlier, race, gender, and education have played an important role when it comes to tracking changing opinions, but the trend lines among age-groups are fascinating.

For example, voters who are 45 and over are much more likely to have strong opinions in one direction or another. Indeed, just about 10 percent of this age cohort reported mixed feelings on the issue on September 23rd and those numbers have barely shifted since. This is not to say they haven’t shifted at all, since we are seeing a 10+ point increase in those who strongly support impeachment.

Among voters under the age of 45, there is a much larger middle group (a little less than a third) and the movement in opinions has been relatively non-existent. At the beginning of this data set, 35 percent of those under 45 strongly supported impeachment and at the end of last week the numbers stood at 38 percent. The movement was even less in the no support category where the increase over this same time period was just one point.

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When we once again look at the net difference between support and opposition to impeachment, we see what is driving this increase among older voters. Men over the age of 65 went from a 31-point net opposition to impeachment in September to a net opposition of just three points last week. In fact, this cohort had a net level of support for a couple days last week before dipping back down towards net opposition at the end of the week.

Men under 45 have been more consistent, with support bubbling up slightly during major events, but the overall shift was just eight points towards support. Men 45 – 65 have been very interesting to watch since they were more closely divided at the beginning of this process, and remained relatively divided until about October 7th. Since that data, there has been a significant increase in net support for impeachment.

We will continue to monitor this and other demographics as events unfold.