For a president whose political identity is so tied to his base support, a new poll has some bad news.
A new Washington Post-Schar School poll shows support for an impeachment inquiry rising to a new high after Democrats formally launched one. The 58 percent who support the inquiry is higher than in any other poll; the 38 percent who oppose it suggests only Trump’s most devoted base is now opposed.
But even that isn’t quite accurate — because it shows some of Trump’s base does support the inquiry and even his removal.
In fact, 28 percent of Republicans support the impeachment inquiry, and 18 percent say they support removing Trump from office, according to the poll. The rise in GOP support for the impeachment inquiry in the poll is commensurate with the rise in support among other groups, according to The Post’s Dan Balz and Scott Clement:
Since a July poll by The Post and ABC, there has been movement toward an impeachment inquiry among all three groups, with support for the inquiry rising by 25 points among Democrats, 21 points among Republicans and 20 points among independents.
This comes with a caveat: It’s the first poll to show such a high degree of support for impeachment and removal among Republicans, and we’ll have to see whether other polls bear this out. But there are suggestions that things could be moving with a small but significant slice of the GOP.
A Marist College poll conducted Sept. 25, immediately after the House launched its impeachment inquiry, showed that 6 percent of Republicans favored the inquiry. A Quinnipiac University poll the same week showed 7 percent favored impeaching and removing Trump. (Impeachment merely brings the issue to the Senate, which then holds a trial and decides whether to remove the president.)
The highest support before now for the impeachment inquiry among Republicans came in a CBS poll, in which 23 percent — almost one-quarter of all Republicans — supported the inquiry.
All of those polls were conducted two weeks ago, shortly after the House launched the formal impeachment inquiry. Since then, polls have been less frequent. But a YouGov/Economist poll last week showed 13 percent of Republicans (about 1 in 8) favored removing Trump from office, which isn’t that far afield from the 18 percent in the latest Post-Schar poll.
In addition, the Post-Schar poll suggests impeachment support could rise even higher under the right circumstances. When the question is framed like this — “In impeaching Trump, do you think Democrats in Congress are making a necessary stand against Trump’s actions, or not?” — 36 percent of Republicans say that Democrats are.
It’s possible that support for impeachment in GOP circles is rising, as Trump’s actions vis-a-vis Ukraine come into focus. It’s also possible this is just a lot of polling noise. But despite Trump’s high level of support in the GOP, there has long been reason to believe there is something of a soft underbelly there, with many Republicans liking but not loving Trump and even disliking him personally. It’s possible many Republicans like Trump and even approve of his job performance but think there are legitimate questions here.
The party as a whole isn’t suddenly going to jump on board with impeaching and removing Trump. But it’s notable that the rising support for impeachment appears to include at least some of the base that Trump likes to tell us is so devoted to him.