Measuring Republican Views on Impeachment
Poll shows a culture of denial among Wisconsin Trump supporters.
How do Republicans handle the July 25th telephone conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine, in which Trump asked for an investigation of Joe Biden, his possible rival in the 2020 election? If the roles were reversed—if a Democratic president asked a foreign leader for dirt on a potential Republican rival, is there any doubt that Republicans would be demanding impeachment or prosecution for treason?
One strategy is to attack the process. This strategy has been adopted by most Republican members of Congress, and is well illustrated by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s recent New York Times column attacking the Trump impeachment. In his column, Sensenbrenner is careful to ignore the charges in the articles of impeachment.
A second is to deny the evidence or its importance. This requires some contortions, as illustrated by the responses made by Wisconsin Republican voters to a series of questions in the most recent Marquette Law School poll, concerning Trump’s actions related to Ukraine.
Early on in his conversation with Trump, Zelensky brings up American aid for Ukraine’s defense:
I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We. are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. Specifically, we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.
Clearly, he hopes that Trump will respond by assuring him that the aid is on the way. Instead, this is the last—and only—mention of defense aid or Javelins in the conversation. Instead, Trump immediately turns the conversation towards investigations. He asks for a “favor”:
I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it.
This seems to be a referral to a theory promoted by the Russians and popular among some of the right that Ukraine, rather than Russia, interfered in the 2016 election and in favor of Hillary Clinton, rather than Trump.
Later, Trump asked for a second investigation, of Joe Biden.
The other thing. There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you ·can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.
A sequence of four questions on the most recent Marquette Law School poll asked about Trump’s actions related to Ukraine. The referenced this requested Biden investigation. It asked, “To the best of your knowledge, did Donald Trump ask the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rivals?” Some 59 percent of Republicans of Wisconsin registered voters answered “no.”
The next question asked, “Do you think Trump did something wrong in his dealings with Ukraine, or do you think he did nothing wrong?” And 75 percent of the Republican voters said he did nothing wrong. Another 12 percent said his actions were wrong but not seriously so. Thus 87 percent believed that Trump’s actions were either okay or not seriously wrong.
The fourth question asked, “Do Trump’s actions mean he should be impeached and removed from office? As the next chart shows, an overwhelming 94 percent say he should not be. The next graph summarizes the sequence. A majority of Republicans reject the notion that Trump wanted an investigation of Biden. Of the remainder, 10 percent rejected the connection to military aid. More either saw nothing wrong or not seriously wrong.
By contrast, Democrats are remarkably consistent: 83 percent answered in the affirmative when asked if Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate his rivals, whether he used aid as leverage, and whether he did anything wrong. And 80 percent advocated his impeachment and removal from office. (A small number volunteered that Trump should be impeached but not removed from office.)
This sequence of questions throws light, I think, on why Republican members of Congress, have opted to attack the impeachment process, rather than defend Trump’s actions. To defend them as “perfect” demands too many jumps in logic as well as wishing away Trump’s language, opaque as it often is. To attack the process presents far fewer challenges.
- Op Ed: The Courage of Mitt Romney - Bill Kaplan - Feb 10th, 2020
- In Trump Acquittal, Wisconsin Legislators Divided - Robin Bravender and Ruth Conniff - Feb 6th, 2020
- Pocan: ‘A Cover-Up That Will Haunt our Democracy’ - U.S. Rep Mark Pocan - Feb 5th, 2020
- Johnson Statement On Acquittal Votes - U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson - Feb 5th, 2020
- Johnson Votes to Conclude Impeachment Proceedings - U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson - Feb 3rd, 2020
- Call Bolton to Testify, Baldwin Urges - Erik Gunn - Jan 29th, 2020
- “Gut Check Time” For Senators, Baldwin Says - Shawn Johnson - Jan 28th, 2020
- Data Wonk: Measuring Republican Views on Impeachment - Bruce Thompson - Jan 2nd, 2020
- Data Wonk: Rep. Sensenbrenner’s Disappointing Column - Bruce Thompson - Dec 26th, 2019
- Pocan: ‘A Vote That Sets the Precedent for All Future Presidents’ - U.S. Rep Mark Pocan - Dec 18th, 2019
Read more about Impeachment of President Trump here