Though a majority of voters say President Donald Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress, they oppose removing him from office for those acts by a narrow margin, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
And the impeachment process does not appear to have greatly swayed voters’ opinions of the president. Overall, 46% said they approved of the job Trump was doing and 51% disapproved. Those numbers were consistent with previous NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls.
“We’ve been through an impeachment inquiry in the House, a trial in the Senate, and America’s attitudes about Donald Trump have hardly budged,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt, who conducted the poll along with Republican Bill McInturff, according to NBC News.
But the impeachment process may have helped intensify Trump’s level of support. Thirty-six percent said they “strongly” approved of his performance, the highest number in the poll since he took office. And 33% said they had “very positive” feelings about Trump, which was also a new high.
McInturff said the poll is Trump’s “strongest” in three years.
“Even as support for impeachment is steady/increasing, Trump’s approval rating is up to some of its highest levels of his presidency,” said Nate Silver, the editor-in-chief of polling site FiveThirtyEight.
The poll was conducted from Jan. 26-29 with 1,000 registered voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
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Trump was impeached on articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over allegations he leveraged military aid to pressure Ukraine into opening investigations that stood to benefit him politically, including one involving former Vice President Joe Biden. The Senate trial is scheduled to wrap up this week and is expected to acquit Trump in a vote on Wednesday.
Fifty-two percent of registered voters agreed with the statement that Trump, “abused his power as president by asking a foreign government to investigate a political opponent to influence the upcoming presidential election to his advantage.” Forty-one percent said they did not believe that to be the case.
When asked if they thought Trump obstructed Congress by not cooperating with the impeachment inquiry, 53% said they believed he had and 37% said he had not.
But 48% said the Senate should not vote to remove Trump from office, while 46% said it should. At the end of October, while the impeachment inquiry was underway, 49% said they favored removing Trump from office while 46% were opposed.
Several Republican senators have expressed sentiments similar to the voters. They say while Trump may have acted inappropriately, his acts did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
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Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that he believed Trump asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and delayed military aid “to encourage that investigation,” but he plans to vote to acquit the president.
“I think it was wrong,” Alexander said of Trump’s alleged acts, adding he thought Trump should have gone to the Department of Justice if he had concerns about Biden. But he said, “I don’t think it’s the kind of inappropriate action that the framers would expect the Senate to substitute its judgment for the people in picking a president.”
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump had legitimate concerns about corruption but “did it maybe in the wrong manner” and “should have gone to the DOJ.” But she says she will vote to acquit because, “whether you like what the president has done or not,” it did not warrant removing him from office.
Democrats have denounced the trial as unfair because the Republican-controlled Senate voted against issuing subpoenas for additional witnesses and documents.
Thirty-nine percent of voters said the Senate already has enough testimony and evidence to make its decision, while 37% said it needs more information. Another 22% said they did not know enough to give an opinion.
In the poll, Trump trailed the leading Democratic presidential candidates in hypothetical matchups, but he had also closed the gap with each of them from an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken in July. For example, Biden beat Trump 50%-44% in the recent poll, but in July, Biden was up 51%-42%.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, the poll found Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont ahead of Biden by one percentage point, 27%-26%, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 15%, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at 9%, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 7%, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota at 5% and entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 4%. The other candidates were at 2% or less support.
Voters in Iowa are gearing up to cast the first ballots in the contest in caucuses on Monday.
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