Despite the slide to 39 percent, there is little support for using impeachment to remove the president.
President Donald Trump’s approval rating has dropped 5 points, equaling his presidency’s low-water mark, since last week’s release of the special counsel report into the 2016 election, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.
Despite his sinking poll numbers, however, there is little support for removing Trump through the impeachment process, the poll shows.
Only 39 percent of voters surveyed in the new poll, which was conducted Friday through Sunday, approve of the job Trump is doing as president. That is down from 44 percent last week and ties Trump’s lowest-ever approval rating in POLITICO/Morning Consult polling — a 39 percent rating in mid-August 2017, in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Va.
Nearly 6 in 10 voters, 57 percent, disapprove of the job Trump is doing.
But while views of Trump have tumbled since the publication of Robert Muller’s redacted report, so has support for impeaching him. Only 34 percent of voters believe Congress should begin impeachment proceedings to remove the president from office, down from 39 percent in January. Nearly half, 48 percent, say Congress should not begin impeachment proceedings.
The split decision in public opinion — a decline in views of Trump’s job performance but fewer voters wanting Congress to pursue impeachment — mirrors the report itself, which clears Trump and his campaign of criminally conspiring with the Russian government to boost his election but which documents numerous, examples of Trump’s efforts to stymie the investigation.
“President Trump’s approval rating has dipped to its lowest point of his term in the immediate aftermath of the redacted Mueller report release,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president. “This week, 57 percent of voters disapprove, and 39 percent approve of the president’s performance — a net approval rating of –18 percentage points, compared with 55 percent who disapproved and 42 percent who approved — a net approval rating of –13 percentage points — one month ago in the aftermath of Attorney General [William] Barr’s summary of the Mueller report to Congress.”
While the report is damaging to Trump in the short term — other post-report polls also show decreases in Trump’s approval rating — it could also paint Democrats into a corner on impeachment. Mueller seemingly kicks the obstruction of justice case on Trump to Congress, and the Democratic-led House is squeezed between a majority of Democratic voters who want impeachment, 59 percent, and slightly more than a third of the electorate that agrees.
For now, most Democrats are treading lightly. In a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged that her conference’s positions “range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment.” And most of the party’s presidential hopefuls have steered clear of impeachment, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) being the highest-profile candidate to take the impeachment plunge thus far.
While Democrats in Congress are split on impeachment, most party leaders, including Pelosi, are calling for the House to pull on some of the investigative threads in the Mueller report. Voters are split on whether Congress should continue to investigate whether Trump or his campaign associates and staffers obstructed the investigation: Forty-three percent say Congress should continue to investigate, while 41 percent say it should not.
Nearly three in four Democrats, 73 percent, want Congress to keep investigating, more than the 59 percent who want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings. Most notably, independents are split, 39 percent to 37 percent, on whether Congress should keep investigating — but just 31 percent of independents support beginning impeachment proceedings, compared with 44 percent who oppose impeachment.
As for the report itself, roughly a third of voters, 32 percent, say they have seen, read or heard “a lot about it,” while another third, 34 percent, have seen, read or heard “some” about it. The remaining 34 percent haven’t seen much about it or anything at all.
Among those voters who have seen, read or heard at least something about the release of the Mueller report, only 28 percent say they actually read any of the redacted report. Most of them, 73 percent, say they followed news coverage about it.
A plurality of voters, 46 percent, think the investigation into Russia’s influence on the 2016 presidential election was handled fairly, while 29 percent think it was handled unfairly. There is rare partisan agreement on this question: Forty-eight percent of Democratic voters, 46 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of independents say they think the investigation was handled fairly.
Despite positive grades for the Justice Department, Barr earns lower marks for his handling of the release of information from the Mueller-led investigation. Only three in 10 voters, 30 percent, approve of the way Barr handled the case — less than the 37 percent who disapprove.
Voters were also unsure whether Barr accurately described the contents of Mueller’s report before its release, with 32 percent saying Barr described it very or somewhat accurately, 32 percent saying he didn’t describe it accurately and 35 percent undecided.
Despite Mueller’s report, which “did not establish that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” voters are still split on the question. More than 4 in 10, 41 percent, say they think Trump’s campaign worked with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The same percentage, 41 percent, say they don’t think Trump’s campaign worked with Russia. The remaining 18 percent have no opinion.
The results on this question are little changed over the past six weeks. In mid-March, before Barr’s letter to Congress after he received the report, 43 percent thought Trump worked with Russia, while 37 percent did not. Three weeks ago, between Barr’s letter and the release of the report, the percentage of voters who thought Trump’s campaign worked with Russia had ticked down to 40 percent, while 43 percent did not think his campaign worked with Russia.
While voters are divided on whether Trump’s campaign worked with Russia, only 28 percent say they think Mueller found evidence that Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia — though just a 43 percent plurality say Mueller found no evidence of coordination. Three in 10 voters are unsure.
There is greater agreement on whether Trump tried to impede or obstruct the investigation. A plurality, 47 percent, say he did, while just 34 percent say he didn’t. Nearly 2 in 10 voters, 18 percent, have no opinion.
But many voters appear confused about what Mueller found in his report. Two in 10, 20 percent, say Mueller found that Trump obstructed the investigation, while 16 percent say Mueller found that he didn’t. A plurality, 37 percent, say correctly that Mueller did not make a determination on whether Trump obstructed the investigation, but 27 percent are unsure.