The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll isn't terribly forgiving to President Trump, whose overall job approval took a beating during the longest-ever partial government shutdown. It's true that another major survey showed Nancy Pelosi even deeper underwater after the 35-day face-off, but she isn't facing a nationwide re-election campaign next year. At least one element of the Post/ABC findings will come as welcome news at the White House, however:
40% support Congress beginning impeachment proceedings against Pres. Trump, @ABC News/WaPo poll finds, down nine points from August; 55% are opposed. https://t.co/9QxnFftfnt pic.twitter.com/Zy43p5YgeV— ABC News (@ABC) January 28, 2019
In August, this series showed a thin plurality (49/46) in favor of impeachment proceedings. Since then, that spread has shifted from (+3) to (-15), a major swing. We examined the phenomenon of falling impeachment enthusiasm last month, postulating that House Democrats' midterm victory played a significant role in releasing some anti-Trump steam in the realm of public sentiment. Other contributing factors include investigation burnout, and concerns about 'mission creep.' The new survey shows that a majority of voters favor Democrats' efforts to force the president to produce his tax returns, yet many fear opposition overreach: "A 46 percent plurality suspect Democrats will “go too far” in their inquiries of Trump, while just over one-third think they will handle it about right."
Why would anyone fear Democrats overplaying their hand? It's not like one of their loudest impeachment zealots has been elevated the a powerful committee chair position, right? And it's not as if one of their possible presidential aspirants, who's practically ubiquitous on television, is going around giving interviews in which he refers to Trump an "agent of Russia" without evidence, or anything. Another interesting piece of the polling data is decidedly lukewarm feelings about the impartiality and fairness of Robert Mueller's report: "Half of Americans report they have “just some” confidence or none at all that the Mueller report will be fair and evenhanded, and 43 percent say they have at least a good amount of confidence in its fairness." Ed Morrissey digs into the internals:
The poll was taken before Roger Stone’s dramatic arrest and indictment, but after Mueller publicly contradicted a Buzzfeed report that claimed Trump told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. That demonstration of fairness apparently didn’t make much of a dent in the public consciousness. Almost a third of Democrats (32%) express little to no confidence in Mueller’s investigation, which increases to 53% with independents and 70% with Republicans. Again, this likely reflects a long history of embarrassing failures by special counsels and independent prosecutors prior to Mueller. It might also reflect the fact that Mueller, while racking up indictments on process crimes and old-news corruption involving Paul Manafort, has yet to produce any indictment that speaks at all to the core Russia-collusion hypothesis of the 2016 election. After nearly two years, Americans want to, ahem, MoveOn and get back to business.
On that second bolded bit, read competing center-right takes from Byron York and David French on the big-picture significance of last week's Stone indictments. In any case, billionaire Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer, who's poured months and millions into beating the impeachment drum and whipping up the lefty base, is warning his party that any presidential candidates who refuse to commit to his impeachment litmus test won't see any support (read: money) from him:
"Unless you support impeachment, we’re not supporting you": Tom Steyer lays down a 2020 litmus testhttps://t.co/A179bHnCbw— POLITICO (@politico) January 28, 2019
And lest you roll your eyes at this as one man's fringe obsession, at least one major national publication has just unveiled a cover story that's simply entitled, "IMPEACH:"
I’m biased, but I think we have a good-looking cover coming up: pic.twitter.com/7dy7fEuplm— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) January 28, 2019
Yes, that's the magazine that fired Kevin Williamson, for those who might be wondering. I firmly believe that any serious impeachment talk prior to Mueller's findings will be seen by many voters as premature and partisan. The polling data rehearsed above is Exhibit A.