Democrats took a tremendous gamble by formally voting for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Thursday. While polls suggest Americans support the inquiry, the general public is divided on whether or not Trump should be impeached and removed from office. Those in key swing states are more likely to oppose impeachment and removal, suggesting that the impeachment battle may help Trump’s reelection in 2020.
“We’ve known for a long time that everybody in California and New York want Trump to be impeached, they’ve wanted that since the day he came into office,” an anonymous Trump campaign official told The Hill. “But in these states where the election is really going to be fought, we’re seeing that voters oppose impeachment, and there’s an intensity to that opposition.”
Indeed, a New York Times/Siena College poll released Wednesday showed that voters in six key swing states oppose impeaching and removing President Trump, 52 percent to 44 percent.
Most voters in Arizona (52 percent to 45 percent), Florida (53 percent to 42 percent), Michigan (51 percent to 42 percent), North Carolina (53 percent to 43 percent), Pennsylvania (52 percent to 45 percent), and Wisconsin (51 percent to 45 percent) say they oppose Congress’s potential removal of Trump from office.
Most voters in those states also support the impeachment inquiry, however — though by smaller margins.
Other polling found that even the inquiry is unpopular in some swing states. Last week, a Marquette University Law School survey of Wisconsin found 49 percent of voters oppose the inquiry while 46 percent support it. Most voters (51 percent) also opposed removing Trump from office, while 44 percent supported it. Independents proved colder to impeachment and to the inquiry, with only 33 percent supporting Trump’s removal and 35 percent supporting the Congressional investigation.
Trump won Wisconsin by a mere 23,000 votes — out of roughly 3 million. Late-breaking undecided voters went his way on Election Day.
In New Hampshire, a state Hillary Clinton won by fewer than 3,000 votes — out of roughly 700,000 — impeachment is similarly unpopular. Most voters oppose removing Trump (51 percent to 42 percent), according to a CNN-University of New Hampshire poll.
Respondents also oppose impeachment and removal in Arizona, a state Trump won by 3.6 percent but which Democrats have targeted for pick-up. Fifty percent of Arizona residents oppose “impeaching Donald Trump,” while 44 percent support it, according to a recent Emerson College poll.
Impeachment is a two-step process, and no president in U.S. history has been impeached and removed by Congress. The House of Representatives opens the process, with a bare majority of representatives required to impeach a president, opening the case up for a trial in the U.S. Senate. Only the Senate can remove the president, and that requires a two-thirds majority — extremely unlikely with the current Republican majority.
Polling on the issue can center on three separate issues: whether the House should open the impeachment inquiry; whether the House should vote to impeach Trump; and whether the Senate should vote to remove him.
Sadly, due to America’s stark partisan divide on the president, many Democrats and liberals have long wanted to remove Trump and were merely seeking an excuse to do so.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was correct when she said, “Impeachment is a very serious matter. If it happens it has to be a bipartisan initiative.” On Thursday, not a single Republican voted for the impeachment inquiry, while two Democrats voted against it.
As The New York Times‘s Nate Cohn reported, different polls have come to different conclusions about the nationwide sentiment on removing Trump from office. Trump criticized a Fox News poll showing 51 percent supporting removal and only 43 percent opposing it, while a Wall Street Journal survey found 49 percent opposed to removal and 43 percent supporting it.
Cohn drew attention to the group of swing-state voters who support the inquiry but oppose removing Trump. This 7 percent of voters skew younger (33 percent are 18 to 34) and independent (nearly half). A majority of them (51 percent) said Trump’s conduct is typical of most politicians — and indeed, Senate Democrats also pressured Ukraine to investigate their political opponent, Trump himself. Cohn noted that these voters “hold a jaded view of politics that would tend to minimize the seriousness of the allegations against him.”
Because Democrats have called for Trump’s impeachment since shortly after his inauguration, a jaded view of this latest push is warranted.
While Trump may be tainted with scandal if the House votes to impeach him, he will also be able to decry the blatantly partisan nature of the push to remove him from office. The Senate is extremely unlikely to remove him, and the impeachment charade may actually help the president in the swing states he needs to win for reelection.
This impeachment battle could backfire on the Democrats, badly.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.