Poll: Americans Divided On Impeachment After 1st Day Of Hearings

Ariel Edwards-Levy

Wednesday’s widely followed impeachment hearings looking at the actions of President Donald Trump left viewers with negative views of congressional Republicans’ behavior, mixed views of the Democrats and tentatively favorable views of the two initial witnesses, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. But opinions remain deeply divided along entrenched political lines, and overall attitudes about impeachment appear both closely divided and largely unaffected by the first day of public testimony.

Roughly three-quarters of Americans say they paid at least some attention to the hearings: about one-third of Americans report having watched at least part of the first day of hearings, with another 39% saying they had seen clips, highlights or news stories. The rest, 28%, say they hadn’t heard anything about it.

Those who followed the hearings are close to evenly divided on congressional Democrats’ goals during the hearing, with 46% saying the Democrats were mostly playing politics, and 43% that they were making a good-faith attempt to get to the truth. They are more condemnatory of the House GOP, saying 51% to 34% that the Republicans were largely playing politics.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (left) speaks as ranking member Devin Nunes looks on, as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the committee on Friday. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (left) speaks as ranking member Devin Nunes looks on, as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the committee on Friday. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The public gives generally positive ratings to the two men who testified Wednesday, diplomat Bill Taylor and deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent, although many had no opinion of the men. Of those who followed the hearings, 40% view Taylor favorably, 25% unfavorably, and 35% aren’t sure. For Kent, those numbers are 35% favorable, 23% unfavorable and 42% not sure.

While 21% who followed the hearings say the proceedings improved their view of the Trump administration, a similar 24% say it worsened their view, with the remaining 55% unsure or saying their views didn’t change at all.

Opinions generally cleaved to by-now-predictable political divides. Just 5% of Trump voters who followed the hearings say the first day of testimony worsened their view of the White House, while just 7% of Hillary Clinton voters who followed the hearings say it improved their views of the administration. The rest of the audience, including those who didn’t vote in 2016 and those who voted for third-party candidates, are modestly more likely to say their opinions of the White House were lowered than that they were raised.

(Photo: Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost)
(Photo: Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost)

Americans say, 43% to 30%, that they think Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to get that country’s president to investigate allegations of corruption against the Biden family, as Taylor testified; the remainder are unsure. Just 17% say withholding aid in that way would be appropriate, with 26% calling it inappropriate but not impeachable, and 39% saying it’s grounds for impeachment. The public is close to evenly split on whether most politicians would be willing to ask a foreign government to investigate a political opponent.

More than 80% of Clinton voters say that Trump withheld aid in an attempted quid pro quo, and that doing so is impeachable. Trump voters overwhelmingly deny the existence of a quid pro quo, but are split between the 40% who say doing so would have been appropriate, and the 46% who say it would have been inappropriate but not an impeachable offense.

Clinton voters are the only bloc to agree that most politicians would not ask a foreign government to investigate an opponent ― two-thirds of Trump voters say they would, and non-voters and third-party voters are divided and largely unsure.

(Photo: Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost)
(Photo: Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost)

The survey finds Americans closely divided on whether Trump should be impeached and removed from office, with 45% saying he should be and 42% that he should not. Support for Trump’s impeachment and removal has remained between 44% and 48% since late September in HuffPost/YouGov polling, and stood at 46% in a previous survey conducted Nov. 5-6.

Another poll, from Reuters and Ipsos, also fielded following the hearings, found that a plurality of people who followed the hearings reported becoming more supportive of impeachment. At the same time, however, the 4-point margin by which Americans supported impeachment was little changed from the 3-point margin in their previous poll.

FiveThirtyEight’s average of impeachment polls suggests that support for impeachment may have slightly contracted in the runup to the initial hearings. In their aggregate, support for impeachment stood at about 47% on Wednesday, with opposition at 45%.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

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The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Nov. 13-15 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

CORRECTION: An earlier version should have said 17% of respondents thought withholding aid from Ukraine for a political motive would be appropriate, not inappropriate.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.