House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) went on CNN's "State of the Union" this morning to defend Democrats' impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.
Anchor Jake Tapper pressed Schiff on whether there is sufficient public support for impeaching the president to justify moving forward with the case. "I don't know if the American people, especially in the battleground states [back impeachment]" said the CNN host.
To this, Schiff responded that "the public support for impeachment has grown fairly dramatically over the past two months."
Schiff is misleading
Schiff is basing his answer on technicalities that may be factually accurate (yes, more Americans favor impeaching Trump now than they did a couple of months ago), but he is grossly exaggerating current public support for impeachment.
An examination of recent polling data demonstrates that his answer is highly misleading:
- Schiff is cherry-picking his initial point of comparison to generate a talking point that is favorable to the argument he is trying to make, but falls apart upon closer scrutiny. In September, Americans were hardly aware of any details regarding the Ukraine scandal, as the story was just beginning to break. Logically, of course public support for impeaching President Trump was lower then compared to its current levels. According to FiveThirtyEight's rolling average of impeachment polls, support for impeaching Trump was at 38 percent on September 24.
- Polls show that support for impeaching Trump climaxed on or around October 14. This was after weeks of overwhelmingly negative headlines and few rebuttals by Republicans. Yet, even at their best, House Democrats could barely muster a majority of the country to back their efforts with just 50.3 percent favoring impeachment and 43.8 opposed to it.
- Since then, as Americans have learned more about the Democrats' impeachment case, public opinion has trended decisively in Trump's favor. As TheBlaze's Chris Enloe noted yesterday, a new Emerson poll shows a 24-point swing against impeachment among Independents when compared to their October study. Moreover, overall net-support for impeachment is down to less than a point (0.7 percent) with 46.3 percent of Americans supporting impeaching Trump and 45.6 percent opposed.
Tapper is correct and Schiff is wrong. After two weeks of public testimonies, and two months of 96% negative media coverage of the administration, Americans are increasingly at odds with him and House Democrats on whether Trump should be impeached.
The numbers don't lie—not even when Schiff does.