A new CNN poll shows that half the country believes that President Donald Trump should be not only impeached by the House, but also removed from office by the Senate.
That result is being spun in some corners of the internet as great news for Trump, because that 50% number is unchanged from a CNN poll in mid-October, the conclusion being that the last 10 days of public impeachment hearings have not convinced more of the public that the President needs to go.
Except that we are missing the forest for the trees here: A majority of the country believes the current President of the United States should be impeached and removed from office!
A quick check of history shows how strange that is.
The peak of support for the impeachment and removal of then-President Bill Clinton in 1998 was 29% in CNN polling. That’s the highest that number ever went, despite the fact that the House Republican majority did vote to impeach late that year!
Ditto impeachment sentiment for the two presidents between Clinton and Trump. In a 2006 CNN poll, 30% of the public wanted George W. Bush impeached and removed from office; in 2014, 33% said the same of Barack Obama. (Unlike Trump and Clinton, neither Bush nor Obama ever faced any sort of formal impeachment investigation or vote.)
What those historical numbers tell us is that for at least the last two decades, there is roughly 30% of the country that is ready to impeach a president (usually of the party to which they do not belong) at all times.
What makes the Trump number so remarkable, then, is that 20% more of the public is now convinced not only that he should be impeached but that he should be removed from office – despite the fact that, unlike Clinton, Bush and Obama when those CNN polls were taken, Trump will face voters in a bid for a second term in less than a year’s time.
Now, it is fair to say that Democrats – if you gave them truth serum at the conclusion of last week’s public impeachment hearings – believed they had hit a home run, and that polling would reflect that. That polling so far hasn’t changed all that much is worth noting.
So that point is right – for now. But it’s also worth noting that we are in the immediate aftermath of the hearings, and its findings may not have fully seeped into the public consciousness just yet. And more importantly, whether it’s 50% or 51% or 55%, it’s noteworthy that a majority of the public wants the President gone.
Don’t get so close to the painting that you can’t see the full picture. And that full picture is this: 50% of the public believes Trump should be impeached and removed – almost double the amount who have said that about any of his three most recent predecessors, including one who was actually impeached by the House.
Don’t lose sight of those facts amid the narrow focus on whether the impeachment numbers have moved since the last poll. That 50% number is both astounding and ahistorical.