First things first: The theme song of the week is the closing credits to “Head of the Class.”
Poll of the week: A new Marquette University poll from the state of Wisconsin finds that 44% of voters want President Donald Trump impeached and removed from office, while 51% do not want him impeached and removed from office.
What’s the point: A look at the national polls indicate that impeaching and removing Trump from office is at, a minimum, a plurality position. Our CNN/SSRS poll out this week showed that 51% of voters nationwide support impeaching and removing from office compared to 44% who disagreed. The average has the split closer to 48% for impeach and removal and 44% against it.
But as Democrats saw in 2016, presidential elections in the United States are determined via the electoral college, not popular vote. And because Republicans control the Senate and 67 Senate votes are necessary to remove Trump from office, the chance that Trump will be forced to leave the presidency is currently low. In other words, the impeachment saga revolving around Trump remains as much an electoral question as it does a legal one.
In the context of the 2020 presidential election, we need to be looking to swing state polling to see how impeachment may play out on the campaign trail. The polls indicate that impeaching and removing Trump in these pivotal states is far from a slam dunk.
Wisconsin, of course, was the most infamous swing state of 2016. It was the tipping point state (i.e. the one that put Trump over the top in the electoral college). When the most accurate pollster in Wisconsin (Marquette) in 2018 reveals that impeaching and removing Trump is not popular, it’s a critical finding.
Importantly, it’s not just this Marquette poll that show that impeaching and remove Trump could be an electoral loser for Democrats (and potential winner for Trump) in the swing states.
Florida is one of the most important swing states in the nation. Trump won there by only a point in 2016. With 29 electoral votes, Democrats would likely take back the presidency with a win there in 2020. A poll of Florida voters conducted by the University of North Florida out this week shows the divide at 46% in support of impeaching and removing Trump and 48% opposed to it.
The breakdown of the UNF poll is close, though it’s another example of how a key swing state is viewing the potential impeachment and removal of Trump differently than the country as a whole.
Indeed, take an examination of the battleground states that Democrats almost certainly need to make inroads into in 2020. The New York Times and Siena College, 2018’s most accurate pollster, took a poll of voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona. These were closest states in the country that cast their electoral votes for Trump in 2016.
Just 43% of voters in these six states want to impeach and remove from office at this point. The majority, 53%, do not. This means that the margin for not impeaching and removing Trump in these states (+10 points) is running well ahead of Trump’s margin in these states of about 1.5 points. Put another way, impeaching and removing Trump from office in these states is not a popular position.
Now, I should say that the impeachment inquiry is more popular than impeaching and remove across all of swing state polling mentioned in this article. The poll that shows inquiry the most popular, the New York Times/Siena College poll across the six swing states, finds 50% of voters in favor of the inquiry and 45% were against it. Even in this poll, however, this five point gap in favor of the inquiry is considerably smaller than it is nationally where it is about 12 points at the moment.
The bottom line is that the electoral implications of impeachment are currently far less favorable to Democrats in the swing states that are likely to determine next year’s presidential election than the national polls indicate. For Trump, this is good news. For the Democratic presidential candidates, it suggests more caution may be needed in articulating an impeachment position than the national polls indicate.