Americans may be tiring of the three-month impeachment drama, but they remain evenly split on whether President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office, the December IBD/TIPP Poll shows. The president's overall ratings improved significantly, as Americans cheer the Trump economy.
Meanwhile, more than a third of those responding say they'll be less likely to vote for a member of Congress if he or she votes to impeach President Trump, the IBD/TIPP Poll found. Data from November's poll showed Americans backed Congress' Trump impeachment inquiry by a hefty 61% to 39%.
Political Storm Over Trump Impeachment
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kicked off the Trump impeachment investigation in late September, with the main line of inquiry involving a phone call made by Trump to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July.
Impeachment leader Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, alleges that Trump's request to Zelensky to investigate the Ukrainian business dealings of Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter amounted to an abuse of power.
On Friday, Schiff's committee leveled two articles of impeachment against Trump, one for abuse of power and the other for obstruction of Congress. A mostly party-line vote by the Democrat-led House is expected later this week. If the House impeaches Trump, the next step will likely be a trial in the Republican-led Senate.
IBD/TIPP Poll: Partisan Trump Impeachment Split
In December's poll, Americans were asked whether they would support Trump's impeachment by the House and his removal from office. Of those responding, 49% said they would support his removal, while 49% said they would not, perhaps a harbinger of 2020 political battles to come.
Not surprisingly, support splits along party lines, with 86% of Democrats supporting removal, but just 11% of Republicans. That leaves independents, whose numbers among registered voters are greater than either Democrats or Republicans, and thus will be a crucial swing-vote factor in the coming presidential and congressional elections.
The Independents Decide
Among independents, 48% support Trump's impeachment and removal while 50% oppose it. And while 21% said that they would be more likely to vote for a congressperson who voted to impeach Trump, 35% said it would make them less likely. That compares to readings of 26% ("more likely") and 35% (less likely) among all of those responding to the poll.
One unexpected bit of political fallout from the impeachment debate, the IBD/TIPP Poll found: 54% now support a Justice Department investigation into Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden and his son Hunter's overseas business dealings. That includes whether Biden himself illicitly used the vice president's office to help Hunter.
Trump Approval Ratings Rise
Meanwhile, Trump's overall favorability rose to 44% in December from 40% in November. Those with unfavorable views fell from 55% in November to 51% in December, despite the impeachment proceedings and difficult U.S.-China trade talks.
Likewise, Trump's job approval rating rose from 39% in the November IBD/TIPP Poll to 44% in December. At the same time, his disapproval number fell from 56% in November to 52% in December.
Trump's Strength: The Economy
Why the turnaround for Trump? The economy. With the Dow Jones Industrial Average and broader stock market surprising even bulls by continuing to climb to new highs, unemployment at its lowest since 1969, low inflation and rising incomes, Trump has the economic wind at his back as 2019 comes to a close.
This month, the IBD/TIPP Poll shows 50% of Americans gave Trump's handling of the economy top marks. That compares with 44% a month ago. A lot of that jump came from a surprising source: Democrats. In November, just 7% of Democrats gave Trump an "A" or a "B" for his economic policies. In December, that jumped to 20%.
Meanwhile, on China trade talks, 41% liked how he was dealing with the U.S.-China trade talks, up from 37% a month earlier. The latest IBD/TIPP Poll was conducted amid growing optimism for a "phase one" China trade deal, which was finally announced on Dec. 13.
Depending on how "phase two" of the trade talks turn out in 2020, the issue could end up helping Trump.
Yet Americans are largely wary of the China tariffs that Trump has used as leverage. Among those queried by IBD/TIPP this month, 47% said tariffs on Chinese goods were hurting the U.S. economy. Just 23% said they were helping. Another 20% said they had no impact.
That puts pressure on Trump to cut tariffs in 2020, not raise them, as he was ready to do on Dec. 15 if a trade deal didn't get finished. The "phase one" China trade deal includes a rollback on some existing tariffs. That could relieve pressure on the U.S. economy and spur business investment.
Trump Leadership: No Impeachment Damage
The wave of economic good news has translated into better poll support for Trump and his policies.
Each month, the IBD/TIPP Poll produces a Presidential Leadership Index. Three major components from our poll make up the index: Favorability, Job Approval, and Leadership.
In December, a month in which a Democrat-led Congress moved to impeach President Trump, his overall Presidential Leadership Index rating jumped 9.2%, or 3.9 points, to 46.2. That's the best reading since July.
And, as IBD reported Monday, Trump now leads all the major Democratic candidates for president in head-to-head polling but one: Joe Biden.
The December IBD/TIPP Poll was conducted Dec. 5-14 with responses from 905 adults. They were contacted via mobile phones and landlines. The poll carries a 3.3-point margin of error.
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