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5 recent polls show a swing in favor of impeachment

Nancy Pelosi says polling on impeachment has changed. She’s right.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins fellow House Democrats to mark 200 days since passing an anti-corruption bill at the Capitol on September 27, 2019, in Washington, DC. 
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Li Zhou is a politics reporter at Vox, where she covers Congress and elections. Previously, she was a tech policy reporter at Politico and an editorial fellow at the Atlantic.

In a conference call with House Democrats this weekend, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made her case for impeachment by pointing to some recent polls.

“I will only close by saying, the polls have changed drastically about this,” Pelosi said, as she laid out her plans for moving forward with impeachment, according to an aide on the call. While there are only a few new polls on the subject, and their findings certainly have the potential to fluctuate, early surveys back up Pelosi’s point.

Since House Democrats launched a formal impeachment inquiry last Tuesday, support for impeachment has grown, according to polls from Politico/Morning Consult, HuffPost/YouGov, NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist, CBS News/YouGov, and Quinnipiac.

These shifts suggest that public sentiment could continue to change as the inquiry proceeds. Such increases in support could bode well for Democratic leaders, who have been reluctant to pursue impeachment out of concerns that negative public sentiment may hurt the party’s chances of keeping the House majority.

In the wake of Democrats’ decision to kickstart a formal inquiry and new revelations about President Donald Trump’s July phone call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the uptick in voter backing has been consistent across a few polls.

According to a Quinnipiac poll fielded September 27-29, support for impeachment across all voters has shot up from 37 percent to 47 percent. In a Politico/Morning Consult poll that was conducted September 24-26, backing for impeachment across party lines now stands at 43 percent, an uptick from 36 percent the week prior. Similarly, a HuffPost/YouGov poll, also fielded September 24-26, found that the margin between those backing impeachment and those who oppose it was expanding. In the latest survey, 47 percent supported impeachment, while 39 percent opposed it, compared to 43 percent and 41 percent that felt the same way in a previous September poll.

Two other polls also showed increasingly solid support for impeachment. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll that was held on September 25 found that 49 percent of voters favor impeachment proceedings. And a CBS News/YouGov poll conducted September 26-27 indicated that 55 percent of respondents approved of an impeachment inquiry.

These polls, several of which were conducted before the release of the whistleblower complaint last Thursday, are all trending the same way. While it’s still too early to know whether such shifts in the public mood will stick, the polls do suggest that House Democrats’ decision to move forward with the inquiry, along with the new information that’s come out about the Trump-Zelensky phone call on July 25, could be altering how voters view impeachment.

Support for impeachment largely depended on party affiliation

In the Quinnipiac, Politico/Morning Consult and HuffPost/YouGov polls, the increases in support for impeachment were largely fueled by Democratic voters. The Quinnipiac poll saw Democratic support for impeachment grow from 73 percent to 90 percent, while independent support went up 34 to 42 percent and Republican support increased from 4 to 7 percent.

That same pattern was evident in the Morning Consult poll, which saw an increase from 66 percent to 79 percent among Democratic voters, 33 percent to 39 percent among independent voters, and 5 percent to 10 percent among Republican voters. The HuffPost/YouGov poll, too, saw an uptick of 74 percent to 81 percent among Democratic voters, 35 percent to 37 percent among independents and a dip among Republicans from 16 percent to 11 percent.

Notably, in the CBS News/YouGov poll, 23 percent of Republicans approved of the impeachment inquiry, while 87 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents did.

There’s also an open question of how much public perception will continue to evolve as people scrutinize the latest allegations against Trump. In both the Politico/Morning Consult poll and the NPR survey, a majority of voters emphasized that they were keeping a close eye on the news, though the HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 42 percent of respondents said they hadn’t heard enough about Trump’s call with Zelensky to determine if allegations being brought against him were credible — suggesting that voters could still change their minds after they continue to learn more about the brewing scandal.

It’s worth noting, too, that there’s a lot we still don’t know about how voters will react to an impeachment inquiry as it unfolds, and that sentiment toward it could still move significantly in either direction. As HuffPost’s Ariel Edwards-Levy emphasizes, polling on impeachment has seen wide variability based on how questions are written, and fluctuations are not always obviously attributable to a news development.

Early polling so far, however, indicates that impeachment — though still highly polarizing — could gain more support, especially if Democrats continue to unify behind the House’s newly aggressive posture and if some independents and Republicans follow along.