Poll: Impeachment Not a Winning Issue for Democrats in 2018

President Donald Trump / Getty Images
April 18, 2018

A commitment to the impeachment of President Donald Trump is not a winning position for candidates on the ballot this election cycle, according to a new poll.

The NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll, released on Wednesday, found that 47 percent of registered voters would definitely vote against candidates who would favor impeaching the president, compared to 42 percent who would definitely vote for such a candidate. The results showed the view was similarly reflected amongst independent voters, 47 percent of whom said they would definitely vote against candidates supporting impeachment.

Unsurprisingly, the survey found that Democrats and Republicans were polarized on the issue, with 70 percent of Democrats stating they would definitely vote for candidates committed to impeachment, while 84 percent of Republicans would not.

The poll results are likely not welcome news for national Democrats who have struggled to connect with voters and set forth an agenda to bolster their chances of taking back the majorities in Congress.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats only need to retake 24 seats to regain the majority and elect current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) speaker. Prior to this recent survey, those prospects were buoyed by the fact that former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton carried 23 congressional districts in 2016 that are currently held by Republicans.

As the poll suggests, however, House Democrats could face an uphill battle this November, especially since the chamber has been a hotbed for efforts to impeach the president. In January, 66 House Democrats attempted to force a procedural vote to initiate the impeachment process.

Although the motion failed by a vote of 355-66, it garnered eight more Democratic votes than a similar attempt only one month prior. House Democratic leadership has attempted to quiet calls for impeachment, but the efforts have been unsuccessful in eliminating the uproar.

In the Senate, Republicans have a slim two-seat majority, however, the upcoming election cycle may very well benefit the GOP since the party is only defending nine seats, while Democratic are defending 24 seats. Eleven of the 24 seats currently held by Democrats are in states that Trump carried in 2016, some by double digits.

Even the top Democratic recruits, on whom the party has pinned its hopes of retaking the majority, have failed to steer clear of impeachment talk. Earlier this month, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D., Texas), who is running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R.) and has shown strong fundraising numbers, stated he had seen enough evidence to warrant him voting to impeach the president.

Complicating matters further is that Tom Steyer, a California environmentalist and billionaire Democratic donor, has launched a multi-million dollar effort calling on elected officials to impeach Trump. In March, Steyer took his campaign to impeach the president on the road with an opening stop in Virginia. Steyer plans to hold 30 "town hall" style events all across the country to sell the case for impeachment directly to voters.

It is unclear if Democrats will be able to distinguish themselves from Steyer, who has a long history of supporting liberal candidates and causes.

In April, Democrats saw their lead in generic congressional ballot polls narrow to the lowest point since Trump took office.