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Critical Issues Poll: U.S. Public Opinion Shifting on Impeachment

Poll Also Finds Split in Attitudes on Middle East Policies

By Sara Gavin

The White House

Photo by iStock

A new survey by the University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll shows that a growing number of both Democrats and Republicans support the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

A growing number of Americans on both sides of the political aisle support the impeachment of President Donald Trump, a new survey by the University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll shows.

Prior to the release of a White House memo summarizing Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 35% of the 1,260 respondents polled Oct. 4–10 said they supported impeachment; after its release, the number grew to 50%. That included a shift among 8% of Republicans and 27% of Democrats. 

A large majority of respondents (68%) said that a U.S. president inviting foreign interference in U.S. elections is an impeachable offense. At the same time, a smaller majority (52%) believe that Trump had in fact invited such foreign influence. 

Moreover, respondents who were more familiar with the contents of the memo were more likely to believe that Trump engaged in a quid pro quo. This held true for Republicans as well as Democrats.

“These findings not only confirm the shifts on impeachment that other polls have been showing, but also suggest that as more information is brought to light, there is potential for further change in public opinion ahead,” said Professor Shibley Telhami, director of the poll. 

One voter bloc remains relatively undecided about whether Trump invited foreign interference, said Associate Professor Stella Rouse, associate director of the poll. 

“As more facts are revealed, independent voters have more room to move on the issue of impeachment, compared to both Democrats and Republicans who are more entrenched in their opinions about the president and his actions.”    

Two recent Critical Issues Polls measured American public opinion on a range of recent events in the Middle East, including the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, the Saudi oil field attacks and U.S. military involvement in Iran and Afghanistan. 

  • Less than a quarter of all respondents (24%) said they supported Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria. Only 8% of Democrats supported the president’s decision, compared to 42% of Republicans. Of those who opposed the move, 66% were Democrats and 23% were Republicans.
  • While a UMCIP survey was being fielded from September 3-20, an attack took place on Saudi oil fields, setting up a unique opportunity to measure the impact of the event on American attitudes toward Iran, which U.S. authorities and several allies implicated in the attack. Before the aerial attack by drones, 39% of Americans said they thought the odds of the U.S. going to war with Iran were higher than they were three years ago. Afterward, that number grew to 51%. Meanwhile, overall disapproval with the U.S.’s involvement in Iran grew from 51% to 57%.
  • Sixty-one percent of Americans supported the decreased U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, including 71% of Republicans and 53% of Democrats. A plurality of Americans (38%) said that America’s military involvement in Afghanistan was neither successful nor unsuccessful, with equal percentages of Republicans and Democrats answering this way. 
  • Americans did not agree on whether it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Afghanistan in 2001: 47% of Democrats and 27% of Republicans called it a mistake, while 49% of Republicans and 29% of Democrats said it was the correct choice. In addition, Democrats (60%) were twice as likely as Republicans (30%) to say that the U.S. has an obligation toward the Afghan government and citizens impacted by the intervention, regardless of whether it was justified or not. A plurality of Americans (44%) agreed that the U.S. has an obligation to the country. 


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