Now that House Democrats are holding an official inquiry into allegations that President Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, FiveThirtyEight is following how public opinion responds with this preliminary impeachment polling tracker.
In addition to tracking the polling averages for and against impeachment among all Americans, which you can see in the chart above, we are also keeping tabs on how opinion breaks down along party lines. As you can see below, Democrats are strongly in favor of impeachment, Republicans are strongly opposed and independents hover somewhere in between.
To be clear, this is something we plan to build on in the coming weeks because there’s a lot we still don’t know. For example, will pollsters start phrasing questions about support for impeachment differently? And will that affect our averages? We’re not sure yet, but we’ll adjust as we go. For now we’re calculating these averages similarly to how we handle presidential approval ratings, which means we’re accounting for the quality of the pollster and each pollster’s house effects (whether they seem to yield unusually good or bad numbers for impeachment compared with the polling consensus). However, measuring public opinion on impeachment comes with some added curveballs. For one thing, pollsters often phrase questions about impeachment differently, which can affect responses. For another, the impeachment process itself is complicated — opening an impeachment inquiry was the beginning of a process that could eventually lead to Trump’s removal from office, but only after a bunch of intermediary steps — and many Americans don’t fully understand it. We haven’t taken these challenges lightly; indeed, we carefully weighed how to handle them methodologically, and in the name of transparency, we’re sharing our decisions with you.
First, we had to make a call on which polls to include. We are collecting all the polls we can find that ask respondents some version of whether they support impeaching Trump — yes or no.1 This means we’re excluding questions that provide multiple options like, “Do you think that, for his actions, President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, censured by Congress, or no action should be taken?” And we’re excluding questions that provide respondents with reasons that they might support impeachment like, “Do you think the Congress should or should not impeach and remove President Trump from office over allegations of obstruction of justice?”
But we are still including polls that use a number of different wordings: those that ask respondents whether Congress2 should begin an impeachment “inquiry” or “hearing”; those that ask more broadly about whether the “process” or “proceedings” of impeachment should begin; and those that ask whether Congress should “seriously consider” impeachment. In addition, we’re including questions that ask whether Congress should simply “impeach Trump” or whether the president should be “impeached and removed” from office.
Finally, we’re including all polls conducted since Aug. 1, 2018 — rather than at the beginning of Trump’s presidency — as that’s when polls on impeachment really started to proliferate. This could be because of the double dose of bad news Trump received on Aug. 21 (his former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted of financial fraud, and his former lawyer Michael Cohen said that during the 2016 campaign, at Trump’s direction, Cohen paid off two women to stay silent about their affairs with Trump), although the approach of the midterm elections might have had something to do with it as well. The number of impeachment polls spiked again this April, after former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference into the 2016 election was released, and they’ve come in a steady stream since then.
Our plan is to update these charts hourly with the latest polls for as long as the impeachment inquiry hangs in the air — so for the time being, bookmark this page to see public opinion evolve in real time.
See all the polls we’ve collected.
Laura Bronner, Dhrumil Mehta, Mary Radcliffe and Derek Shan contributed research.