Thursday, August 7, 2014

Impeachment -- the Polls

Democrats love the word impeachment right now, and rightfully so. It helps the party raise money and paint Republicans as do-nothing partisan loons. Dems talk about it more than Republicans, and Republicans whine that Democrats are talking about it so much, so Democrats whine that Republicans are talking about them talking about it.

Politics. Sheesh.

Only about a third of Americans want Obama impeached, but more than half of Republicans think it's a terrific idea. 

In honor of this, let's take a quick trip down memory lane. Remember President George W. Bush? Impeachment came up during his time in office, and support for impeachment ranged from 26 to 36 percent, depending on the poll and when it was conducted. Nearly half of Democrats liked the idea.

Remember President Bill Clinton? He actually was impeached (though not convicted in his Senate trial). But it was a famously bad idea politically. Rarely did people think much of the idea, with approval ranging in one poll from 29 to 33 percent, and in another it hit 40 percent.

Remember President Richard Nixon? In 1973, only 19 percent thought he should be forced out of office. As news of his dirty tricks accumulated, that rose to 53 percent by 1974. Still, a lot of people classified what his administrative cronies did as "just politics," often as much as one-third of the population.

If you look carefully at polls conducted through these three previous instances, you'll see a number of consistencies. First, it takes a lot to get a majority of Americans to favor impeachment. Second, partisan politics plays a big part in what people think. Third, public opinion doesn't appear to change all that much except in the case of Nixon, and let's face it, for those of us who remember those times, Nixon is a special case.

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