Democrats are split on whether impeachment is a good use of their time, but primary voters love it

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesU.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a weekly news conference January 24, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Speaker Pelosi spoke on various topics related to the partial government shutdown which now in its 34th day.
  • Among moderate or liberal-leaning voters, 31% think pursuing impeachment is a good use of Democrats’ time, while 40% disagree with that assertion, an INSIDER poll conducted immediately after the Mueller report release found.
  • Respondents who identified themselves as liberal-leaning were more likely to be interested in pursuing impeachment. Half of the respondents identifying as very liberal said impeachment was an “extremely” or “very” good use of time.
  • Democratic primary voters seem game for Democrats to pursue impeachment, with a majority saying it’s at least a “somewhat” good use of Democrats’ time.
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The long-anticipated release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his nearly two-year-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and potential obstruction of justice on the part of President Donald Trump has kicked off a debate in Congress over whether to begin impeachment proceedings.

While the report documented extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, Mueller did not find sufficient evidence to charge Trump or anyone associated with his campaign with conspiracy related to Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

On the question of obstruction, the Mueller report laid out 11 different areas of Trump’s conduct they examined for potential obstruction, but said the office could not come to a “traditional prosecutorial decision” as to whether Trump obstructed justice.

In explaining their decision, Mueller’s team cited “difficult issues of law and fact,” including that some of the president’s conduct – like firing Comey – is permitted under his constitutional authority and prevailing DOJ policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Read more:

Mueller explicitly says he can’t clear Trump of obstruction of justice

The report said that while they could not indict the president on charges of obstruction of justice, they were also unable to “reach a judgment” that “the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice” – leaving the next steps up to Congress to determine whether Trump committed the high crimes and misdemeanours that warrant impeachment.

INSIDER polling found that while Democrats are split on whether impeachment is a good use of Democrats’ time, people likely to vote in the Democratic primary love it. INSIDER conducted a poll on SurveyMonkey Audience from 6 p.m. ET the day the Mueller report was published, through Friday with over 1,100 respondents.

To gauge interest among moderates and left-leaning respondents, we asked an additional question of those who identified as neither liberal nor conservative, those who were slightly, moderately or very liberal, and those who declined to list a political lean.

Of those 713 respondents, 31% say pursuing Trump’s impeachment is a good use of the Democratic Party’s time, while 40% said it’s not such a good use of time or not at all a good use of time.

Respondents who identified themselves as liberal-leaning were more likely to be interested in pursuing impeachment.

  • Of those who didn’t list an affiliation, 19% thought impeachment was an extremely or very good use of time.
  • Of those who were neither liberal nor conservative, that figure rose to 22%.
  • For slightly liberal respondents it was 32%.
  • Among moderately liberal respondents it jumps to 34%.
  • Very liberal came just shy of a majority, with 50%.

While these signals are decidedly mixed for Congress, for those running for president, the mathematics are much, much more clear.

Among respondents who said they’d likely participate in their state’s Democratic primary or caucus, 20% said impeachment was an extremely good use of time, 18% said it’s a very good use of time, 20% said it’s somewhat good, and 36% said it was not such a good use, or not at all a good use of time. Only 6% didn’t have an opinion, showing that impeachment is fairly galvanizing.

If the House of Representatives were to impeach Trump, the case would be tried in the Senate, in which a two-thirds majority would be required to convict him, an unlikely outcome given that the chamber is controlled by the Republican party by a 53-47 majority.

Some members of Congress, like House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, came out against impeachment soon after the report was released.

“Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months, and the American people will make a judgment,” he told CNN, later walking back his comments in a tweet.

Read more:
Democrats have an intra-party battle brewing over impeaching Trump after the Mueller report’s release

Other Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff took a more measured approach, not rejecting the pursuit of impeachment, saying to see the evidence underlying the report before coming to a conclusion.

And some progressive Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts openly came out in support of the House beginning impeachment proceedings.

Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a Thursday tweet that while a conviction in the Senate would be unlikely, she couldn’t “see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate.”

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,101 respondents collected from the evening of April 18 through April 19, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points with a 95% confidence level

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