Actually, the Fox News poll released Sunday said that 54 percent of Americans want to see President Trump impeached. Fifty percent support impeaching him and removing him from office; an additional 4 percent support impeaching him but allowing him to remain on the job. Forty-one percent don’t think he should be impeached at all.
(Interestingly, it’s that 4 percent who are most likely to see their desires fulfilled. Trump is likely to be impeached by the House this week but then acquitted by the Senate sometime next month.)
There are, of course, broad differences in how members of each party view impeachment. Democrats overwhelmingly support impeaching and ousting Trump, while Republicans overwhelmingly disagree. Independents fall in the middle, with 50 percent supporting impeachment of the president (and slightly less supporting removal).
What Kilmeade is comparing these results to, though, is the conservative media narrative that emerged in recent weeks. It’s one that was espoused by Trump himself last week, when the president declared that his poll numbers had gone “through the roof” — especially, he said, “with independent voters and especially in swing states.”
As we noted Friday, that’s not true. The reality is that the polls actually haven’t changed that much. Since Fox News’s last poll in late October, for example, support for impeachment is essentially unchanged, once you consider the margin of sampling error. The same holds true for Trump’s job approval, which was at 42 percent in October and is at 45 percent now, a nonsignificant shift.
That didn’t stop Kilmeade (or the headline writers at Fox) from comparing the approval and the impeachment numbers.
“I thought that things were trending away,” Kilmeade said, then adding, “although the president’s approval rating did tick up in the same poll. So it’s almost like a split personality.”
Nope. Same personality: Views of Trump haven’t really moved at all.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, much less shock them. For weeks, we’ve tracked impeachment polling and found that things hadn’t budged — not good news for Democrats who were hoping for a groundswell of support, but not great news for Trump, either. What it means is that, even in Fox News’s (consistently good and methodologically sound) polling, half of the country thinks that Trump at best acted improperly.
In that poll, half of respondents said that they believed Trump had obstructed justice. About half said that he’d abused his power; slightly fewer said he’d committed bribery in pressing Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden. Six in 10 respondents said that request was inappropriate. About half said that they thought Trump had withheld aid to Ukraine to force the country to launch the probe.
What’s particularly interesting about those numbers is the support from Republicans. Thirty percent of Republicans said that they thought it was inappropriate to request the Biden probe. Consistently 10 to 15 percent thought that Trump had obstructed justice, committed bribery or abused his power. Even about 10 percent of people who voted for Trump in 2016 told the pollsters that they agreed Trump had taken one of the inappropriate actions mentioned above.
Those percentages clearly don’t include the prominent Trump supporters Brian Kilmeade or Donald J. Trump. Fox News’s polls are one of the few reliably objective assessments of the president to make it into the network’s coverage. It’s also one of the consistent targets of Trump’s ire. Trump railed against Fox News’s pollsters (again) Sunday — presumably because their 2020 polling showed him trailing Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). That, too, is in line with what other pollsters have shown — and it isn’t what Trump wants to hear.
Fox News’s 2016 national polling accurately suggested that Hillary Clinton would have a narrow popular vote victory.
Polling has shown that the most fervent, most loyal supporters of Trump are Fox News viewers. We got another example of that on Monday, when USA Today and Suffolk University released a poll that included a breakdown of views by preferred media outlet. Respondents were asked which TV news or commentary source they trusted the most. Of those who identified Fox News, 84 percent said that they thought that Trump shouldn’t be impeached — or even investigated any further. That’s higher than the density of Republicans in the group; about 7 in 10 of those who identified Fox as their most-trusted network were members of Trump’s party.
What the Fox News poll showed was, in fact, the opposite of shocking. It reinforced what other polls have shown — though, as expected, there is some deviation (like the lower support for impeachment in Suffolk’s poll). But Kilmeade, one of the foremost denizens of the Fox News universe, may not be exposed to that objective reality. Nor may many of his fervent viewers.