President Trump’s approval rating has climbed to match the highest of his presidency, boosted by majority approval of his economic stewardship even as Americans remain deeply divided on whether the Senate should remove him from office, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
A 56 percent majority approves of Trump’s handling of the economy, up 10 percentage points from September and his strongest rating on his marquee issue since entering office. By contrast, 39 percent approve of Trump’s handling of his impeachment, while 50 percent disapprove.
The findings suggest the country’s strong economy and heightened support from men and independents are helping Trump weather an impeachment trial in which Democrats have argued Trump abused his presidential powers and obstructed a congressional investigation of his actions. Trump’s 44 percent approval mark is similar to other recent national polls, though other polls have shown Trump’s rating stable or increasing slightly.
The nationwide survey, which overlapped with the start of arguments in Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate this week, finds 47 percent of the public saying senators should remove Trump from office and 49 percent saying they should not. Those views are similar to a Post-ABC poll in December, in which 49 percent supported Trump’s removal while 46 percent were opposed.
Nearly 8 in 10 Americans say they feel “strongly” about the issue, with 38 percent strongly supporting Trump’s removal and 40 percent strongly opposed.
Partisans continue to be starkly divided on Trump’s fate, with more than 8 in 10 Democrats supporting his removal and more than 8 in 10 Republicans opposed. Independents narrowly lean against removal, with 42 percent saying the Senate should remove Trump from office while 51 percent say it should not.
Apart from the question of whether to remove Trump, 52 percent say they approve of the vote by the House to impeach the president, slightly higher than the 45 percent who disapprove. When President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998, roughly 4 in 10 approved of the House’s vote.
Despite divisions over the preferred outcome, 66 percent of Americans overall say the Senate should call new witnesses to testify at the impeachment trial, a question that has been fiercely fought among senators. Democratic lawmakers have called for the Senate to hear testimony from witnesses who might speak about Trump’s intentions in withholding military aide to Ukraine, while the Senate’s Republican leadership has pushed for a shorter trial without additional testimony.
Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats and over 6 in 10 independents support calling new witnesses, while Republicans are split about evenly, with 45 percent saying new witnesses should be called and 43 percent saying they should not.
Most Americans, 56 percent, also say they are very or somewhat confident the Senate trial will be fair to Trump, though confidence has grown sharply more partisan in the past month. While over 6 in 10 Democrats and Republicans in a December Post-ABC poll were confident the Senate trial would be fair, the latest survey finds 72 percent of Republicans say this compared with 46 percent of Democrats.
The Senate trial is expected to result in Trump’s acquittal, given Republicans’ control of the chamber and the 67 votes needed to remove Trump from office. When asked whether the combination of Trump’s impeachment in the House and a Senate acquittal would represent a “victory” for either Trump or Democrats, 51 percent of Americans say they would see it as a split decision. But 33 percent say this end result would represent a victory for Trump, compared with 10 percent who say it would be a victory for Democrats.
Trump’s overall job approval rating has increased most clearly among two groups that are important to his reelection campaign. Among political independents, 47 percent approve of Trump’s performance, up from 38 percent in October. Independents also rate Trump’s economic performance more positively, with 60 percent approving, up from 46 percent in September.
The poll also finds a 57 percent majority of men approve of Trump, up 12 percentage points from October to the highest level of his presidency. By contrast, 33 percent of women approve of Trump’s performance, little changed from 31 percent in the fall. The 24-percentage-point gender gap in Trump’s approval rating is the largest in Post-ABC polls since he took office.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted by telephone from Monday through Thursday among a random national sample of 1,004 adults, 65 percent of whom were reached on cellphones and 35 percent on landlines. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Emily Guskin contributed to this report.
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