A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that while Americans are sharply divided over whether President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office due to his dealings with the Ukraine, they are generally distrustful of Democrats' handling of the investigative process.
The nationwide survey of 1,003 adults asked respondents: "Based on what you know, do you think Congress should or should not impeach Trump and remove him from office?"
Forty-nine percent responded Congress should impeach and remove the 45th president from office, while 47 percent said it should not. Opinions were largely split along party lines.
Bad news for Democrats
The survey also shows significant vulnerabilities for Democrats. Despite Americans' mixed views on whether Trump should be impeached, 50 percent disapprove of how the Democrats in Congress have handled the process thus far, compared to 44 percent who approve. Meanwhile, 65 percent percent say initial hearings should be public, a rebuke of House Democrats who have held confidential hearings up to now.
The poll also sheds light on whether Americans believe the Democrats' investigation into Trump is in good-faith or politically-motivated.
Pollsters asked: "In investigating Trump, do you think the Democrats in Congress are mainly interested in upholding the Constitution, or mainly interested in hurting Trump politically?" To this, 51 percent of respondents said Democrats are more interested in hurting Trump, while 43 percent said their priority is to uphold the Constitution.
Of course, the poll is not all good news for Republicans. Similar to other studies, the ABC News/Washington Post survey found that 55 percent of Americans believe President Trump likely did something wrong in his dealings with Ukraine, compared to 35 percent who say he is innocent of wrongdoing. By a similar 60 to 31 percent margin, most Americans believe it was inappropriate for the president to involve his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in U.S. policy dealings involving Ukraine.
Given how sharply divided public opinion is over whether the president should be impeached, we can deduce that not all Americans who believe Trump did something wrong in his dealings with Ukraine believe it rises to the level of an impeachable offense. Moreover, it is important to note that recent polls show Americans are turning on the Democrats' 2020 candidates.
For instance, an October 2019 survey by The Economist and YouGov found 51 percent of Americans view former Vice President Joe Biden unfavorably, compared to a 42 percent favorable rating. With voters skeptical of the nature and handling of the impeachment inquiry, President Trump could convince Americans the effort is merely a political stunt aimed at undoing an election and install an unpopular Democrat in the White House next year. In fact, this is precisely the case that House Republicans have been pressing for weeks.
Will it work?