If House Democrats in vulnerable districts are starting to worry that Nancy Pelosi’s shadowy, closed-door impeachment “inquiry” looks like a politically motivated witch hunt instead of a valid legal process, a new poll by McLaughlin and Associates isn’t going to brighten their day.
McLaughlin polls are especially important because, unlike some recent polls that purported to show popular support for impeachment by heavily over-sampling Democrats, the McLaughlin polls use samples that mirror actual voter turnout. Republicans can get useful information from McLaughlin polls without all the sampling bias favoring Democrats, and Democrats can hear what they need to hear and not just what they want to hear.
And the October McLaughlin poll of 1,000 likely voters makes it clear that the Democrats have over-played their partisan hand and they are running out of time to put up or shut up on the impeachment question.
The first major finding suggests that Rep. Al Green (D-TX) spilled the beans when he recently admitted that the Democrats had to impeach President Trump to keep him from being re-elected. When asked whether “Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are moving forward with their impeachment inquiry against President Trump mainly for political reasons to stop him from being re-elected or mainly for legal reasons,” 52 percent of respondents overall said the effort was for political reasons. Only 36 percent thought the effort was motivated by legal reasons.
The deeper one looks at the poll results, the worse it looks for Democrats. Not surprisingly, 81 percent of Republicans saw the impeachment effort as motivated by politics and only 13 percent saw the effort as legal in nature, so President Trump’s base is holding strong. Though a majority of Democrats (62 percent) saw the impeachment inquiry as grounded in legal concerns, almost one in four Democrats (24 percent) and even one in three liberals (34 percent) saw it as politically motivated. That is soft support among the Democratic base. And other demographics needed by the Democrats weren’t buying the idea that the impeachment effort was for legal reasons. Hispanics (48 percent to 41 percent); Independents (54 percent to 30 percent); and Women (45 percent to 38 percent) saw the impeachment inquiry as more motivated by political rather than legal reasons.
When politicians try for something as radical as impeachment – a move that in essence overturns an election – any whiff of self-serving partisan motives is going to turn off voters. But Democrats have been talking openly since the day after the 2016 election about their intent to, in the words of California Rep. Maxine Waters, “impeach 45.” The only open question was when they would make their move and what they would try to use as their cover story to justify impeachment. So, with the Russian angle backfiring and the 2020 election bearing down on them, the Democrats are now running with the Ukraine angle and voters smell partisan desperation.
Other findings in the poll should alarm House Democrats even further. Voters overall agreed 59 percent to 33 percent Democrats should “focus on working with Republicans to solve our nation’s problems rather than trying to impeach President Trump.” Once again, key demographics needed by the Democrats tracked with that overall trend toward problem-solving and away from partisan antics. Independents (55 percent to 33 percent); Moderates (48 percent to 39 percent); Hispanics (50 percent to 40 percent); and Women (52 percent to 38 percent) all agreed that Democrats should be working with Republicans on the nation’s problems rather than trying to impeach the president.
Furthermore, given that Pelosi and the Democrats have been conducting a partisan impeachment process and refusing to follow the historical precedent of public, open debate with an up-or-down vote in the House of Representatives, voters agreed 47 percent to 33 percent that “the President is right NOT to cooperate with this inquiry.”
And now, with Democrats talking of holding some kind of House vote on an impeachment resolution on Thursday, Democratic consultants looking at these results should be talking to their clients with the blunt clarity of the proverbial Dutch uncle: Anything that smells of partisan chicanery and stacking the deck is going to backfire with voters, and Republicans would be fully justified in opposing it. Do a clean, up-or-down vote in a fair and open process and then be prepared to go home and justify your vote to your constituents. And then start working with the Republicans on solving real problems.
And if the Democrats need any other indicator of voter mood, the poll asked “Should Hillary Clinton be prosecuted for erasing over 30,000 emails so that the FBI could not read them.” Voters overall said “yes” 52 percent to 32 percent “no.”
That is no climate in which to push the impeachment of a president who beat the most powerful and shady political machine in the country by campaigning against the self-serving corruption and abuse of power in the DC swamp.