Trendency: Support for Impeachment Rises

"We are looking at an incredibly fluid situation"

a Trendency Research Feature

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In the last few days, headlines continue to build around a single data point: that a “majority of Americans” support impeachment. Public polls like the October 8th  Washington Post article are cited. These polls (or headlines) aren’t wrong – however, with hourly news stories, presidential tweets, and dueling press conferences, we are looking at an incredibly fluid situation.

On September 23, Trendency found that registered voters were far more divided, with only 46 percent allocating their support of impeachment. As a reminder, Trendency does not ask questions in a binary fashion (do you support or oppose impeachment proceedings) but instead captures the level of support a respondent has for each position or response. With this in mind, the 46 percent data point does not represent a percentage of voters, but rather an average of the responses in support of impeachment. 

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September 23 was the day before Speaker Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry. At the time, the public wasn’t fully aware of the administration’s interactions with Ukraine, or of what exactly a whistleblower was alleging, only that a report existed. As the events of the next few days unfolded (Pelosi’s announcement of the inquiry, the release of the summary transcript between Trump and Ukraine’s president, and the whistleblower complaint) public opinion began to shift – and quickly, with support for impeachment rising and opposition falling. However, as we can see in the chart below, following these major events, public opinion leveled out and began to return towards pre-whistleblower levels.

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This momentary dip in support, however, saw an uptick the following week after President Trump’s press conference with the President of Finland (Oct. 2), followed by him publicly suggesting that China should also investigate former Vice President Joe Biden (Oct 3). However, unlike before when we saw this gap close, we see the gap between support and opposition has maintained.   

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This isn’t necessarily bad for President Trump. Remember, there are a number of events that have happened (and continue to happen) that Democrats would like to assume push support for impeachment to increase. However, Trendency’s top line averages show that views have somewhat leveled off – at least for the time being. But since when have we ever left things at the top level?

Trendency provides us with the luxury of looking at the intensity of each response, and in this case - support for impeachment. As the chart below details, the percentage of voters with mixed views for both support and opposition has stayed roughly consistent since the 23rd, but the percentage of voters that strongly support has increased (36 percent to 41 percent), while voters that indicated no support for impeachment has dropped (43 percent to 36 percent). For this particular view, it’s important to note that this is not overall opposition to impeachment – but rather the percentage of voters that indicated “no support” for impeachment.  

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Similar to Trendency’s topline averages, we see a trend towards support, falling before the President’s comments over China – reversing support back to the previous trend. Voters that previously indicated no support are beginning to indicate low-level support. In a traditional survey – they would still clearly come out as a no for impeachment, but Trendency isn’t a traditional survey.

The issue of impeachment is still largely partisan with the vast majority of support coming from Democrats. However, Independents and Republicans have increasingly moved towards support but not in overwhelming numbers. As to be expected, Democrats support impeachment in far higher numbers than do Independents or Republicans. This being said - impeachment support among Independents has increased by nearly 10 points and Republican support, while still meager, is on the rise (22 percent to 29 percent).

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This trend is much more evident when we look at the strength of support for impeachment by Party ID from Monday, September 23rd to Oct. 9th. This movement is especially noticeable among Independents. Unlike voters overall with mixed views (they are not strongly in support or opposition), where these views remain fairly consistent through the inquiry process, Independents with mixed views jump from a combined 16 percent to 28 percent. When we look at only Independents in the full timeline, we see this shift much more noticeably. This, combined with the fact that Independents who strongly support has steadily impeachment increased from 26 percent to 30 percent, provides a better understanding of how fluid the situation is from where we started. 

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In the coming post, Trendency will delve deeper into support and opposition by demographics and the impact on how voters are looking at their choices for the 2020 General Election.