Almost the same proportion of Americans want to impeach President Donald Trump as the percentage who favored impeaching Richard Nixon at the height of the Watergate scandal, according to a new CNN/SSRS poll.
The survey found that 42 percent of Americans today think Trump should be impeached, compared with the 43 percent who backed Nixon’s impeachment in March 1974. (When broken down by party, the support for impeachment is quite skewed, however. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats say Trump should be impeached, while just 9 percent of Republicans do.)
As CNN pointed out, this overall number is significantly higher than the roughly 29 percent of Americans who supported Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 — and the roughly 29 percent to 30 percent of Americans who favored impeachment of Barack Obama and George W. Bush during their presidencies.
The current number is also notable because support for Nixon’s impeachment did not gain this kind of momentum until after some of the biggest revelations about Watergate — a degree of scandal that Trump has yet to face, CNN noted. Nixon ultimately resigned before an impeachment vote.
Democratic lawmakers have skirted the issue of impeachment, given special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation and the polarizing nature of the issue. As Vox’s Matt Yglesias wrote, taking a stance on the issue of impeachment presents a midterm dilemma for Democrats — and even provides a potential lever that Republicans can use to motivate their base. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said she sees impeachment as too “divisive” of a topic and intends to focus messaging on the economy. At the same time, some vocal Democratic activists like billionaire Tom Steyer have taken it upon themselves to push for impeachment being on the agenda.
Other findings from the CNN poll show that Trump’s attacks on Mueller and the Russia investigation could be having an effect, with approval for how Mueller is handling the investigation waning from 48 percent in March to 41 percent in this recent survey.
The poll also revealed that an overwhelming majority of Americans think Trump needs to testify under oath if Mueller calls for it. About 70 percent of people think he should testify if requested and that same proportion disapproves of Trump issuing a presidential pardon for himself.