From “What The Polls Say About Impeachment Before The First Public Hearing” by Laura Bronner and Nathaniel Rakich at FiveThirtyEight:
Support for impeachment first shot up in late September and early October, as news was piling up about Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate his political rival, but public opinion has leveled off. As of around noon Monday, according to our impeachment polling tracker, on average, 48.0 percent of Americans said they supported impeachment in one form or another, while 44.4 percent said they didn’t support it. That’s not too different from the 49.3 percent who supported impeachment and 43.5 percent who opposed it a month earlier.
In fact, even when you break impeachment polls into categories based on question wording — specifically, those that asked if people supported beginning the impeachment process, those that asked if people supported actual impeachment, and those that asked if people supported impeachment and removal — a similar picture emerges: Support for each “flavor” of impeachment has been pretty steady since early October. That said, support for beginning the process has consistently been noticeably higher than support for impeachment or support for impeachment and removal, the latter two of which have been very similar. As of Monday morning, 51.0 percent of Americans supported beginning the impeachment process, while 46.6 percent supported impeachment and 47.4 percent supported impeachment and removal.
Bronner and Rakich add, “Since Nov. 3, however, independents have been a bit more likely to support impeachment and removal than simple impeachment, and the numbers were 44.3 percent to 41.1 percent as of Monday. We’re not sure why this might be (again, it could just be noise), but it will be interesting to see whether that trend continues into the public hearing phase of the inquiry.”
Will the outcome of Impeachment help Democrats in 2020? Matthew Yglesias and Andre Prokop write that Trump is “plausibly down just a point or two in approval ratings — in part because most Americans already disapproved of him before the story broke, so the people he’s left with are relatively hard-core supporters. Looking at Trump’s approval as a whole, his two worst moments were the unpopular 2018 tax law and the government shutdown in early 2019. Nothing that’s come out about Ukraine has been nearly that bad for his approval numbers.”
Prokop and Yglesias add, however, “to the extent that Trump’s goal was to hurt Joe Biden’s presidential prospects, his strategy is arguably working.” However, “Biden himself is, like Trump, only down slightly since the story broke, but Warren is up quite a bit.”
In his article, “Impeachment Legalism Is a Trap Democrats Must Avoid” at Bloomberg Opinion, Noah Feldman cautions, “The single most dangerous pitfall” Democrats face “is allowing too much legal talk to obfuscate the fundamental wrongness of Trump’s conduct: using the might of his office to pressure a foreign country to destroy the candidate he thought most likely to threaten his re-election.”
Feldman warns further that “laws passed by Congress — statutes — are very detailed descriptions of specific acts that count as crimes. House Republicans will likely use statutory law to come up with legal-sounding arguments to maintain that Trump has done nothing wrong. Democrats could then fall into an abyss of prattling on about “quid pro quo” and the statutory definition of extortion. What Democrats need to do instead is name Trump’s impeachable conduct for what it is: a constitutional violation and an abuse of power…Using the presidency to get Ukraine to investigate Biden was – obviously — a brazen attempt to gain unfair advantage in the 2020 election. That abuse of power is a high crime and misdemeanor. It merits impeachment. And legalism shouldn’t be allowed to distract the public from it.”