Voters are split over whether Trump should be removed, NBC News poll says

voters-are-split-over-whether-trump-should-be-removed,-nbc-news-poll-says

Donald Trump speaking from the Oval Office from a White House video, January 13, 2021.

Source: The White House

Voters are divided, largely along partisan lines, over whether President Donald Trump should be removed from office, a new NBC News poll shows.

Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats say Trump, who was impeached by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, should be convicted by the Senate. Fewer than 1 in 10 Republicans say the same.

In all, about 50% of Americans say that Trump should be removed while 48% are opposed, a divide within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Independents narrowly oppose removing Trump from office, with 45% in support and 53% against it.

The poll was conducted between Jan. 10 and Jan. 13, as more information about the Jan. 6 riot in Washington continued to surface. It asked whether respondents believed Trump should be impeached and removed based on “what you have seen, read, or heard about Donald Trump and the events at the U.S. Capitol last week.”

It’s unlikely Trump could be convicted in time to face removal, though he could be hit with other sanctions.

President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20 and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that there will be no trial before the change of administration.

While that schedule means it will be too late for an impeachment to remove Trump from office, it is possible that the Senate could disqualify him from running again.

Trump is the first president to be impeached two times and would be the first to face a Senate trial after leaving office.

Democrats in the House of Representatives impeached Trump in late 2019 after he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his family. He was ultimately acquitted by the GOP-controlled Senate last year.

The current impeachment, for instigating the Washington insurrection, drew more bipartisan support among lawmakers in the House. Ten Republicans joined Democrats — the final vote was 232-197 — while none did during the first impeachment.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump during his impeachment last year. No Republicans have said they will convict Trump this time around, though McConnell is reported to support the impeachment and multiple GOP senators have urged the president to resign.

It takes 67 votes in the Senate to convict, meaning that 17 Republicans would have to join every Democrat in the 100-person congressional body. Democrats will have 50 members after Georgia’s Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are sworn in by the end of the month.

Voters are about equally divided over the current impeachment as they were over the first one. A December 2019 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 48% of voters supported Trump’s impeachment and removal, while 48% opposed it.

The numbers track with the general stickiness of Trump’s popularity, which has remained essentially constant throughout his four years in office. Experts have linked the steadiness to political polarization.

“While a few Republican elected officials have broken with Trump, Republican voters are sticking with him for now,” Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, who conducted the poll alongside Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, told NBC News. Horwitt is a Democrat and McInturff is a Republican.

“As we’ve seen over the course of his term, major event after major event does little to shake Trump’s standing with Republicans,” Horwitt said. 

The poll showed a similar divide on the question of whether the riot in Washington heralds more violence to come. Asked whether the attack was an isolated event or the “start of a major increase in violent political protest,” 45% said it was isolated and 49% said it was the beginning of a more violent period.

Fifty-nine percent of Democrats said the event marked the start of a more violent period, compared with just 36% of Republicans.

A majority of voters, 57%, also said that the attack on the Capitol was an act of terrorism, with 48% saying they held that view strongly. That question tracked along partisan lines, with 90% of Democrats and just 27% of Republicans labeling the event terrorism.

The survey was conducted among 1,000 registered voters – 590 of whom were reached only by cellphone – and has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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