Issues & Insights

Trump Is Losing The Impeachment PR Battle

I&I Editorial

The latest Fox News poll should be worrisome to anyone who thinks that the Democrats’ impeachment push will backfire on them. They, and not President Donald Trump, are winning the hearts and minds of the public at the moment. In the end, that’s all that will matter when it comes to how the impeachment drama turns out.

The poll found that 51% now think Trump should be impeached and removed from office. That is a stunning turnaround in just a few weeks. The same poll taken in July found that only 42% wanted to see Trump removed from office.

The IBD/TIPP poll — which corrected predicted Trump’s victory in 2016 — found that 50% “see Trump’s actions as rising to the level of an impeachable offense,”

It’s certainly possible to read too much into these and the other polls showing the public increasingly backing Trump’s impeachment (an average of poll results on impeachment by FiveThirtyEight finds that 49.3% back impeachment)

After all, Trump’s approval rating has barely budged since the latest impeachment frenzy took off. As a matter of fact, his favorability rating today is essentially identical to President Barack Obama’s at the same point in his first term in office in the Gallup tracking poll – 40% for Trump compared with 41% for Obama.

The Real Clear Politics average has Trump’s job approval at 43.2%. That’s down from 45% in late September, but still better than it’s been for most of his presidency. At the start of this year, for example, his RCP average approval rating was only 41%.

But dismissing this latest poll as insignificant is foolhardy.

The Fox poll found, for example, that 13% of Republicans say they support Trump’s removal from office, which is up by five points since July. Unless the poll’s methodology is off, that is a deeply troubling number.

Trump and his defenders seem to believe that the Democrats’ rush to impeachment will unquestionably backfire on them. It won’t drive Trump from office. It will make them look desperate to oust him at any cost. And it will dramatically energize the GOP base. Just look at the money pouring into his campaign coffers right now.

Maybe so. But this is based on one huge assumption: namely, that the Senate would never vote to remove Trump based on whatever articles of impeachment the House sends over.

What happens if support for Trump’s removal continues to build, particularly among independents and especially among Republican voters? Anyone who thinks Republicans won’t cave to that pressure hasn’t been paying attention to the spinelessness of GOP Senators for the past, oh, ever. (It was Senate Republicans, remember, who saved Obamacare from the ax when they thought public support for that misbegotten law had solidified.)

Thankfully, the Founders set the impeachment bar extremely high. In this case, 19 Republicans would have to vote to remove Trump for it to succeed. But even if Trump isn’t ousted, there’s the possibility that impeachment so thoroughly taints his presidency that the voters decides it’s their turn to remove him from office at the ballot box.

The real danger for Trump isn’t that he overreacts to the impeachment proceedings, but that he doesn’t take the process seriously enough to try to convince more than his hard-core base that the charges are completely meritless.

Right now, Trump is losing that public relations battle. If he doesn’t come to grips with this fact, he might lose the war as well.

UPDATE: Any time a poll comes out that produces unfavorable results, everyone suddenly becomes a polling expert. Several readers complained in the comments below that the Fox News poll was unreliable because it supposedly oversampled Democrats. But now we have a Gallup poll finding that 52% back Trump’s impeachment and removal. Just to be clear, we aren’t supporting this, but even Trump’s most ardent supporters must face the reality of the situation sooner or later.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • “Perception is reality” – much as we might wish it was otherwise. What people perceive to be true they act on as though it is true, be it ever so absurd. Surely President Trump understands this after a long career in business and entertainment. I suspect that the Democrats are once again underestimating DJT and overreaching, just as happened with the Mueller Investigation and his disastrous testimony before Congress. Proof of the Biden Family’s corrupt dealings continues to emerge. Adam Schiff’s role in creating the whistleblower report continues to be revealed, and his close association with a Ukrainian arms manufacturer of questionable character adds more doubt as to Schiff’s real motives. The President very well could turn the tables on the pro impeachment gang in dramatic fashion, thus abruptly reversing public perception. Don’t be too quick to count out the President.

  • Oh- so, Trump is losing the PR battle to the side that completely controls the mainstream media, and does nothing but trumpet their lust for impeachment 24/7? What a surprise!
    Fortunately, the media doesn’t make the decision- they al;ready made theirs on November 9, 2016.
    If the Democrat Marxists were so confident of the evidence, they would hold a vote. All they have is a circus.

    • It usually helps not to admit to the high crimes that you have been accused of on national television:
      Both Nixon and Clinton at least knew enough not to do that.

      It’s not the media’s fault Trump has a big mouth. It’s not like they are going to not show the video after he admits he’s guilty. Clinton’s,”I did not have sex with that woman,” played on television so often it’s infamous, but he was at least denying it. Trump went on tv and said he did it.

    • And why would they do that? That doesn’t seem like something Fox would do. It actually sounds like the exact opposite thing of white fox would do.

      If People want to believe something bad enough they will, even if it doesn’t make sense on its face, like the idea that Fox News purposefully over polls Democrats doesn’t make sense on its face.

  • I don’t think so ,the vast majority of Americans believe the Democratic Party and The msm have zero credibility with regards to impeachment.If the dims ever actually filed articles of impeachment they are totally screwed, outside the swamp there is a cold cold anger growing toward the media and the Democrats especially in middle America.Stop drinking the kool aid only one poll is going to count the one next November it will not be pleasant for the swamp.

  • Polls are only as meaningful as the internals are representative of the real population. This poll is oversampled in favor of democrats (D +14!) with respondents self-identifying with D, R or neither.

    Which means it is a very biased poll since the population at large is much closer to equal identification (D +2 in September 2019):

    For Fox to publish/use this poll without adjusting for this sampling bias or without disclosing the sampling error is a clear indication of the intention to mislead. Fox is continuing to dig its grave with its core audience by this kind of shenanigan.

  • The problem the Democrats have is the average person does not care about this. The more that comes out about Hunter Biden, the more it seems reasonable for the president to seek investigation into his activities. People choose impeach or not impeach in the polls, but it doesn’t capture passion. My guess is that there is not a lot of passion for impeaching the president from people not in the Democrats hardcore base.

  • Gotta say…. for an entity that decided to write an editorial about a political poll one would have thought you would have taken a brief look at the internals before expending such energy. The poll skewed young (1000 respondents, 330 land lines, 770 cell phone lines) and was comprised of 48% Democrats, 40% Republicans, and 12% Independents. Why so few independents when the actual national voter registration of independents is something on the order of 34%? Because independents OPPOSE impeachment by a roughly 60/40 split. Also, let’s remember that 37% of the population wanted to impeach Trump by November 10th, 2016. C’mon editorial board, you’re smarter than this!

    • Take a look around and you’ll see for yourself that the answer to your question is no.

  • “The latest Fox News poll should be worrisome” Reported elsewhere, yes actually REPORTED, that Fox over sampled the D’s by 14%. Who knows, but it wouldn’t surprise me for a second…it’s now the way Fox rolls.

  • “,,,there’s the possibility that impeachment so thoroughly taints his presidency that the voters decides it’s their turn to remove him from office at the ballot box.”

    Possible but elections don’t take place in a vacuum and they are not always popularity contests. There will be another candidate on the ballot. If the Dems keep moving further and further left with Green New Deal, free tuition, student debt forgiveness, Medicare for all, cancel all private insurance, raise taxes, open borders and all the rest of their unbelievably intrusive, expensive plans it won’t matter who they run. A lot of people will decide to vote for “tainted” over “crazy socialist” to protect their pocket books.

  • Thanks for showing your bias. You totally ignore the gross unfounded and inaccurate overweighting to Dems used by this flawed poll. But if you’re biased against our President why wouldn’t you?

  • A close look at the polling shows that the voters really began to turn against Trump after Trump released his written version of the July 25 phone call. Don’t give Democrats credit and don’t give Trump blame. The People read what Trump released and concluded that he no longer deserves to be president. Simple as that.

  • Trump is only losing the battle because it’s top of the 1st and Democrats are still at bat..

    Dems have scored a few runs, to be sure.. But the game is far from over..

    • It’s still questionable whether Trump will be removed from office, but impeachment is pretty much a done deal.

  • Seriously? The flawed Fox poll??

    What makes Fox News’s ‘Trump impeachment’ poll totally unreliable
    How did the Fox polling unit come up with 51% of Americans wanting Trump impeached?

    About that Fox News poll claiming 51% of voters want Trump out
    Reasons to take this latest poll, blaring loud, with a grain of salt.

  • “Trump and his defenders seem to believe that the Democrats’ rush to impeachment will unquestionably backfire on them.” There does seem to be a lot of blind faith along these lines.

    Trump has made impeachment about personalities, when it is in fact an assault on the people’s right to choose their representative in the White House. The longer he keeps the focus on himself, the more imperiled he will become. Clinton made impeachment about stopping him from “doing the business of the American people”; that was very effective, in large part because it was essentially true. Trump needs to speak to the same truth, that impeachment threatens to upend the apple cart. That’s what people care about.

  • Do you people ever actually read these polls and look at the internals? This poll substantially over sampled Democrats for some inexplicable reason. So, your editorial is based on heavily skewed number and is therfore invalid.

    • Other polls have found similar results. The Gallup poll found 52% supporting impeachment and removal.

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