What had Trump particularly incensed on Thursday morning was a new poll from a cable network that’s generally generous in its estimations of his presidency.
It’s not true that Trump has never had a good poll from Fox’s pollsters; in January 2016, he celebrated a Fox poll that showed him leading in the Iowa caucuses. Nor is it the case that Fox’s poll team generally mirrors the network’s coverage. The pollsters represent the sort of objective analysis that the network’s pundits only claim to espouse.
That said, it’s not surprising that Trump is particularly angry about the new results.
1. The poll shows that a majority of Americans want to see Trump removed from office.
The top-line numbers are some of the worst Trump has seen on the question of impeachment and removal from office. In the Fox News poll, 51 percent of respondents said that Trump should be both impeached and removed, with 4 percent saying he should be impeached but not removed.
Among suburban women, a constituency that is of ongoing concern for Republicans, nearly 6 in 10 support Trump’s removal. Even more than 1 in 10 Republicans — and 12 percent of people who voted for Trump — think he should be ousted.
More than half of respondents said they thought Trump is more focused on doing what serves himself best as opposed to what best serves the country. Nearly a fifth of Republicans said that they think Trump is focused more on Trump than the country.
2. Americans find Trump’s actions on Ukraine particularly troubling.
Asked their views about what Trump did — specifically, ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden — most respondents said that the request was “very” or “extremely” troubling. Even a fifth of Republicans said it was at least “very” troubling that Trump made the request.
Trump and his allies have been arguing that the request was solely a function of Trump’s desire to see possible corruption uprooted. It’s an argument that suffers from two distinct problems: There’s not strong evidence that Biden was engaged in anything close to corruption, and there’s no evidence that Trump has put a focus on corruption anywhere that a prominent Democrat wasn’t involved.
That argument appears to have gained traction. Fully 40 percent of Republicans think it’s inappropriate for Trump to ask foreign leaders to investigate political rivals — nearly twice as many as find the Ukraine situation troubling. This suggests, perhaps, that some supporters accept the idea that Trump wasn’t looking to undermine Biden specifically.
But the numbers above are grim for Trump as an impeachment inquiry moves forward. Unearthing additional evidence suggesting that Trump’s goal was solely to undercut Biden could presumably increase the number of people who consider Trump’s actions out of bound. (Assuming the normal rules of political scandal apply, which may not be a fair assumption.)
3. Views of the situation among Republicans are complicated.
Thirteen percent of Republicans believe that Trump should be impeached and removed from office. That’s a big chunk of the president’s own party — 1 in 8 Republicans. But it’s not many relative to the population overall.
Fox’s pollsters asked those Republicans why they didn’t think Trump should be impeached.
- 22 percent of those who opposed impeachment said Trump did nothing wrong.
- 22 percent said the impeachment push was a politically motivated attack.
- 17 percent said there was a lack of evidence.
- 12 percent said they approve of the job he’s doing.
- 10 percent said that what Trump did wasn’t impeachable.
That 17 percent is interesting, implying (as we just noted) that more evidence might sway them. As it stands, 9 percent of Republicans see the Ukraine call as impeachable, with another 38 percent calling it inappropriate.
There’s a broad sense that this is political. Eighty-one percent of Republicans think Democrats just want to hurt Trump politically. About 6 in 10 Republicans think that Republicans in Congress oppose impeachment because they think Trump did nothing wrong.
The flip sides of those questions are interesting, too. Only 11 percent of Republicans think that Democrats sincerely think Trump did something impeachable. But about a quarter of Republicans think that members of their party are opposing impeachment to protect the president.
4. There remains a significant gender gap in views of what happened.
On the questions of both approval of Trump’s job performance and impeachment, there are big gaps between men and women. Men are 13 points more likely to approve of Trump’s job performance; women are 13 points more likely to want to see him booted from office.
Some of the broadest gaps are among whites with college degrees. More than half of men with degrees approve of Trump’s job performance while only about a third of white women with degrees do, a 20-point gap. White women with degrees are 14 points more likely to want to see Trump impeached and removed.
5. Fox News has covered its poll less than other networks.
One small detail that should relieve Trump: His favorite network is talking about the results of the poll less than other networks.
A search of mentions of either “Fox News poll” or “51 percent” since the poll was released Thursday evening shows that Fox News and Fox Business have mentioned it less frequently than CNN or MSNBC, particularly when including overnight reruns of shows.
When Fox News does cover the poll, its coverage can be a bit different in tone than the other networks.
“Polls are showing support for impeachment,” host Laura Ingraham said. “And the polls are not going in the way the president wants them to go. If you believe the polls, you don’t believe the polls — including a poll done by Fox News. A thousand registered voters called randomly on cellphones and home phones. Supposedly 51 percent say they want the president either impeached or removed.”
“Supposedly.” “If you believe the polls.”
On “Fox & Friends” on Thursday morning, a reporter noted that support for impeachment had increased since a July Fox poll. “Since then a lot has happened,” he said, “most notably, of course, the House Democrats launching the impeachment inquiry.”
The last Fox News poll was released July 25, the day that something else notable happened: that call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.