These two numbers show why impeachment talk is trouble for the GOP


JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

By about 2-1, Americans say they don't think President Obama should be impeached and removed from office, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Friday.

But a majority of Republicans disagree.

That, in a nutshell, is why talk about impeaching the president is nothing but trouble for the GOP heading toward the November midterms.

Sixty-five percent of Americans say Obama should not be impeached, compared to just 33 percent who say he should. Very one-sided. It's clear that impeachment is a political loser when it comes to the public as a whole.

The "public as a whole" numbers matter because with most of the consequential primaries behind us, Republican candidates in key Senate races -- the battle for the Senate is the main midterm event -- have to be concerned about playing to broad statewide audiences.

Which is why when former Alaska governor Sarah Palin called for impeaching Obama and top Republican candidates were asked whether they agreed, not a single one said yes.

But some of them were silent or ambiguous. Why? Because of the second key number from the CNN poll -- 57 percent of Republicans say they back impeachment.

Midterm elections are about turning out base voters without alienating moderates to the point where they are fired up against you. It's a balancing act.

The GOP's base is mostly saying, yeah, impeachment is a good idea. So when Republicans reject impeachment, they are assuaging moderates but they also risk angering conservative Republican voters.

So long as talk of impeachment is alive, it's really a lose-lose situation for the GOP. There is no good answer the party's candidates can give. It would be much better if the issue fades away.

It's worth noting that even as Americans mostly reject impeachment, a plurality (45 percent) say Obama has gone too far with his use of executive power. So the GOP's argument that the president has overreached has the potential to connect with voters in the fall.

Just not if they are going to frame that argument with a pitch for impeachment.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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