That’s reflected in surveys like a poll released Tuesday by Monmouth University. Not only did it find static approval for Trump (43 percent overall, at the upper end of the range Trump has seen in Monmouth polls), but it also determined that nearly two-thirds of respondents say nothing would change their minds about Trump’s performance in office. That includes most Republicans (who largely approve of Trump) and nearly three-quarters of Democrats (who don’t).
That finding is interesting in part because this is a moment in which we would expect Trump’s approval rating to shift. After all, he’s the target of an impeachment inquiry that’s now more than a month old, an inquiry that has revealed a number of interactions between administration officials and Ukraine suggesting an effort to get that country to launch investigations that would be politically useful for Trump.
Views of the inquiry were about evenly split, with those thinking it’s a good idea holding a slight edge. Views of impeaching Trump were similarly split, with opposition to impeaching and removing him from office holding a majority.
One thing that’s important to note about those numbers is that, at least in Monmouth polling, support for impeaching Trump hasn’t grown much since the inquiry was launched. (In September, Monmouth found that 44 percent of respondents support impeachment and removal, the same percentage as now.) That’s a function of how solidly Republicans oppose the idea of impeaching Trump and removing him from office.
Republicans were also the least likely to say that they had heard a lot about the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. While 64 percent of respondents overall said they had heard a lot about Trump asking Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, 55 percent of Republicans said they had. Another third of Republicans said they had heard a little about it.
It’s worth noting here one possible reason for that difference. Fox News is the most trusted network among Republicans, according to Suffolk University polling — and Fox News has also been much less likely to cover key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.
Republicans’ lack of familiarity with the core issues — or professed lack of familiarity — is a theme in Monmouth’s poll.
Most Republicans — a group that, again, opposes the impeachment inquiry — think that what’s been revealed so far shows that Trump either did nothing wrong or did nothing that rises to the level of impeachment.
But Republicans are also less likely to know that Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden. Less than half of Republicans say that probably happened — despite it being included in the rough transcript released by the White House itself.
And despite Trump’s frequent exhortations that people “read the transcript,” which he thinks is exculpatory.
We asked Monmouth how responses to the question above compared with how much respondents said they had heard about the Ukraine call. Among those who had heard a lot about the Ukraine issue, most said (correctly) that Trump had mentioned an investigation of Biden to Zelensky. Those who hadn’t heard about the situation were less confident.
Among Republicans, more than a quarter of those who said they had heard a lot about Ukraine said that Trump hadn’t asked for a Biden probe — about the same percentage who said that among those who said they hadn’t heard anything about the issue. It’s not shown below, but nearly a third of Republicans who said they had heard a little about the Ukraine issue also incorrectly thought that Trump hadn’t asked for a Biden probe.
On the question of whether Trump pressured Ukraine to launch an investigation into Biden — a claim bolstered by both the rough transcript and subsequent testimony in the impeachment inquiry — a plurality of Republicans say it didn’t happen. Nearly three-quarters say either that it didn’t happen or that they either reject the question or don’t think there was a request for an investigation at all.
They are similarly skeptical that anyone else might have pressured Ukraine, despite documentation of former administration officials alleging exactly that. Two-thirds of Republicans say that didn’t happen, either.
This is an issue of critical importance. Democrats eager to see Trump pay a price for his approach to Ukraine recognize that the president’s fate depends on Republicans in the Senate. Those Republicans are presumably attuned to what their voters believe — and their voters continue to think that Trump not only didn’t do anything wrong but also that evidence suggesting otherwise doesn’t exist.
This, weeks into an inquiry that’s received blanket coverage — in most media outlets. Perhaps the inquiry holding public hearings will increase awareness of the issues. But Democrats should be prepared for the possibility that they won’t move things at all, that those 59 percent of Republicans who say nothing will change their minds are completely correct.