Fifty-two percent want the Senate to convict while 44 percent do not. Even more Americans (57 to 41 percent) want the Senate to bar him from holding office in the future. (This suggests much of the public does not quite understand what impeachment means. That’s exactly what the trial would be about.)
Republicans are still sticking by Trump, but the percentage of those who think he did nothing wrong is 20 points lower than it was during the first impeachment (56 percent vs. 36 percent). The percent of Republicans who favor impeachment (13 percent) is low, but higher than the 8 percent who favored impeachment last year.
The poll also indicates that President Biden’s inauguration has already eroded the notion that he is not the legitimate president. Sixty-five percent now think Biden won “fair and square,” five points higher than he did before taking office. Of those who say it was the result of fraud, 63 percent nevertheless think it is time to move on.
While we have learned to be suspicious of polls during an election in which the MAGA cult leader is on the ballot, the relative change in support for impeachment and conviction — and in the weakening of the Big Lie that the election was stolen — should be reason for optimism. There will no doubt be a hardcore base of true MAGA believers who are immune to reason and hostile to a multiracial democracy for the foreseeable future. But, over time, absence from the limelight will loosen the cult leader’s grip on his followers. One should not underestimate the impact of his absence from social media.
The poll should be a warning to MAGA sycophants in Congress who refuse to concede that Biden won fairly or who oppose barring the seditious ex-president from holding office. Lawmakers from deep-red states may still fear antagonizing the unhinged MAGA crowd, but those who have national ambitions or who represent a district or state with a significant portion of non-MAGA voters should rethink their fidelity to a toxic political figure. Coupled with the growing aversion among political donors, the allure of perpetuating the lie that the election was stolen may dim.
Many in the media, inclined to play up political conflict and lacking imagination to comprehend that events change opinion, have so far portrayed Biden as hopelessly naive about healing the nation. They have characterized his willingness to negotiate with Republicans on his stimulus package as somewhat benighted. Perhaps they are stuck in 2020.
No one expected the section of the country immersed in right-wing media and unhinged about demographic changes in the country to come around. However, we may watch this portion of the electorate shrink over time. An even-keel, pragmatic and conciliatory president might be the best antidote to the radicalization and alienation of the right.