By Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Kabir Khanna
Congressional Democrats and Republicans each appear to face a challenge moving public opinion on impeachment as public hearings begin, since many Americans say their views are already locked in. There’s been essentially no change in the number who feel President Trump deserves to be impeached since last month, and now the public expresses dissatisfaction with the approaches of both congressional Democrats and the president thus far.
More Americans feel the Democrats have done a bad job handling the inquiry (52%) than a good job (48%.) And more feel President Trump has done a bad job handling it (56%) than feel he has handled it well (43%.)
Americans favor making at least some hearings public. A large majority think testimony should either be in open hearings (47%) or a mix of open and closed, depending on the sensitivity of the testimony (42%). Just 11% say hearings should be closed. More than half of Americans continue to approve of congressional Democrats having started the impeachment inquiry.
Eight in ten Americans have an opinion on whether the president deserves to be impeached, and are divided today much as they have been for weeks, with 43% saying he does and 40% saying he does not. Seventeen percent say it is too soon to say, but many of them are also not paying as much attention.
Of those who do have an opinion on the matter, most say their minds are made up about it: nearly three in four say so.
Views on the whistleblower are mixed and marked by sharp partisan divides just like other aspects of the matter. Eighty percent of Democrats feel any whistleblower’s identity ought to remain private, while 76% of Republicans say their identity should be forced to be made public.
Partisans divide on what they believe is the motivation behind the whistleblower’s complaint as well. Most Republicans think the whistleblower’s motivation was probably to politically damage Donald Trump. Democrats tend to feel the whistleblower was probably trying to protect the interests of the United States.
The audience for the live hearings may be less receptive to persuasion than the larger public. Fewer than half of Americans say they plan to watch even parts of the hearings live; partisans are more likely than independents to say they will; and those who say they could still change their minds about impeachment are less likely to say they’ll watch live than those whose minds are already made up.
One in five Americans say they think the events surrounding impeachment have been very easy to follow so far. More — 37% — say the events are somewhat easy to follow.
On the GOP side, roughly seven in 10 rank-and-file Republicans think congressional Republicans should defend President Trump on his handling of Ukraine, while a quarter think those representatives should wait to see more of the facts before deciding. But a mere 6% feel they should criticize the president. And on the Democratic side, only 11% call the impeachment matter a political distraction. Most — 62% — call it a critical matter.
Views of President Trump’s job performance remain stable. Forty-six percent say he is doing a good job, while 54% think he is doing a bad job — the same as in July, before the beginning of the impeachment inquiry.
Seven in 10 Americans are paying at least some attention to the impeachment inquiry. As was the case last month, Democrats are paying more attention than either Republicans or independents.
The CBS News survey is conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 3,380 U.S. residents interviewed online between November 9-11, 2019. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote and registration status. The margin of error is approximately 1.9%.