By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) The Democrats may never have believed they could actually impeach President Donald Trump, but there’s no question they were at least hoping to change the public’s view of him to their favor.
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But, as nearly five months’ worth of impeachment drama is set to come to an end Wednesday when the Senate is expected to vote for acquittal, a new survey has found what previous polls have reported: Trump’s approval numbers have not taken a hit and in fact, his Republican base has become even more energized.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, a WSJ/NBC News poll, 49 percent say the president ought to serve out his term while 46 percent said he should be removed.
The WSJ added:
By an 11-point margin of 52% to 41%, voters said they believe Mr. Trump asked Ukraine to investigate a political opponent in order to influence the coming presidential election to his advantage. And by a 16-point margin of 53% to 37%, voters said Mr. Trump obstructed Congress by directing officials not to comply with subpoenas for testimony and otherwise not cooperating with the impeachment inquiry. Those two accusations form the basis of the impeachment charges.
Mind you, these results are shaped by the question, and while that sounds obvious, questions without context can produce a skewed result.
If, say, one question is, “Did the president obstruct Congress by refusing to comply with subpoenas for testimony and not cooperating with the impeachment inquiry?” pollsters are going to get a much different result than if the question were phrased differently to inform respondents that, by constitutional and precedent, the president, as head of the Executive Branch, has rights and authorities too, same as the Legislative Branch.
With that in mind, the WSJ/NBC News survey had some additional results that we believe are more reflective of President Trump’s political strength as he emerges from impeachment:
Together, the findings suggest that impeachment hasn’t changed one durable feature of Mr. Trump’s presidency: In a turbulent political environment, Americans’ views of him remain fixed.
The poll, in fact, found some signs that the president’s political standing has strengthened in recent months, due largely to a more energized Republican Party base.
Mr. Trump’s job approval in the January poll stood at 46%, with 51% disapproving, in line with results throughout the Trump presidency. But the share who “strongly approve’’ of his job performance hit its highest mark, at 36%. Approval among independents rose to its highest level since the summer. …
To Jeff Horwitt, a Democratic pollster who conducted the survey with Republican Bill McInturff, the results draw a picture of stability for Mr. Trump, even after an impeachment process that is expected to end this week with a Senate acquittal. “America’s attitudes about Donald Trump have hardly budged,’’ he said.
Mr. McInturff said impeachment had energized Republican voters, to the president’s benefit. “This is Trump’s strongest poll, I think, in three years,” he said.
One reason impeachment has had little impact is that Americans view the proceedings with skepticism, pollsters said. When voters were asked to supply a phrase to describe the trial, one word surfaced prominently among members of both parties: sham.
“Nearly 60% in the survey, conducted Jan. 26-29, said that Democrats in the House and Senate were acting on impeachment out of political considerations, while 37% said they were focused on upholding the Constitution. The results were similar for Republican lawmakers,” the WSJ reported.
“That’s an explanatory tool for how we can be going through four-and-a-half months of this process and have Trump where he is,’’ said McInturff.
The survey also said that Trump trails all three leading 2020 Democrats and even gets edged by Pete Buttigieg by a point. But there was no link to the actually polling results so we don’t know what percentage of Democrats and Republicans were sampled by pollsters.
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