Independents souring on impeachment as inquiry heats up, polls indicate

Recent polling on impeachment indicates that independent voters are far from sold on ousting President Trump from the White House. In fact, the national surveys suggest support for impeaching and removing the GOP incumbent has deteriorated over the past month, even as the House inquiry has ramped up.

Fifty percent of independents questioned in an NPR/PBS/Marist poll conducted Nov. 11-15 did not support impeaching and removing Trump from office, with just 42 percent backing such a move. That’s a slight dip in support compared with the previous NPR/PBS/Marist poll – conducted the first week in October – when support stood at 45 percent.

The new survey was conducted before this week’s high-profile testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, where a parade of witnesses testified about top-level involvement in efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats while aid was withheld to the eastern European country involved in a war with Russia. Trump blasted the hearings as “a continuation of the witch hunt” and downplayed the impact of the testimony.

While impeachment still enjoys support from a slight plurality overall in an average of polls by RealClearPolitics, the RCP average points to a dimming view from crucial independents — indicating more independents are now opposed, in a reversal from mid-October.

A Gallup poll conducted the first two weeks of November – also before this week’s testimony – indicated that 45 percent of independent voters supported impeaching and removing the president – with 53 percent opposing the move. That’s a switch from October, when the previous Gallup survey put the split at 53-44 percent.

And just 42 percent of independents questioned in a Monmouth University poll conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 3 supported impeaching and removing Trump from the White House, with 51 percent saying no.

The president’s facing impeachment over his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter over their dealings in the eastern European country. Biden is one of the top Democratic 2020 presidential contenders hoping to challenge Trump in next year’s election. Fueled by whistleblower complaints, a transcript of the call released by the White House, and testimony by witnesses in the inquiry, Democrats say that the president was asking a foreign country to potentially interfere in a U.S. election.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that before that phone call, millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine was put on hold. Despite allegations that the president was using that money as leverage, Trump has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing wrong. He says there was no “quid pro quo” and has on numerous occasions described his conversation with the Ukrainian leader as “perfect.”

The president argued in an interview Friday morning that he’s rising in the polls “because of the impeachment thing.”

“You’ve seen the polls over the last week. I’m going through the roof. In Wisconsin I’m way up over every Democrat,” he emphasized.

Trump was likely referring to a Marquette University Law School poll released on Wednesday that indicated the president with a single-digit edge over Biden (47-44 percent), Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (48-45 percent), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (48-43 percent) in hypothetical general election matchups in the crucial battleground state of Wisconsin. Trump enjoyed a 47-39 percent lead over South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the survey.

Trump was up just 2 percentage points over Buttigieg in the previous Marquette University Law School poll, which was conducted a month ago. Biden, Warren and Sanders had single-digit advantages over Trump in the earlier survey.

Fifty-three percent of registered voters in Wisconsin opposed impeachment, according to the survey, a slight 2-point bump from their earlier poll.

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