Cal­i­for­nia’s Democrats split on Trump im­peach­ment, poll finds

Lodi News-Sentinel - - NATION/WORLD - By David Lauter

WASH­ING­TON — Much like their elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Cal­i­for­nia Democrats are di­vided sharply over whether Congress should move to im­peach Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, a new poll shows.

Trump re­mains deeply un­pop­u­lar in the na­tion’s largest state, with its heav­ily Demo­cratic elec­torate, ac­cord­ing to the new Berkeley In­sti­tute of Gov­ern­men­tal Stud­ies poll, con­ducted for the Los An­ge­les Times.

More than 6 in 10 Cal­i­for­ni­ans — and al­most 9 in 10 Democrats in the state — said Trump’s poli­cies have been bad for Cal­i­for­nia. Al­most two-thirds of vot­ers in the state said they planned to cast bal­lots against him in next year’s elec­tion.

But when the ques­tion turns to im­peach­ment, re­sults are more equiv­o­cal, the poll shows.

Among reg­is­tered vot­ers over­all, 35% said Congress should start im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings and 30% said Congress should con­tinue in­ves­ti­gat­ing Trump, but not start the im­peach­ment process — es­sen­tially the po­si­tion taken by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Fran­cisco. A third said Congress should drop the mat­ter and move to other top­ics.

A nar­row ma­jor­ity of Democrats, 53%, said Congress should start the im­peach­ment process. But about 4 in 10 fa­vored con­tin­ued in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Only about 8% of Democrats said Congress should move on.

Vot­ers reg­is­tered with­out a party pref­er­ence di­vided al­most equally among the three choices. An over­whelm­ing 86% of Cal­i­for­nia Re­pub­li­cans would like to see Congress move to other top­ics.

“Trump re­mains hugely un­pop­u­lar in Cal­i­for­nia and most think his poli­cies are harm­ing the state. Even so, there is no con­sen­sus for the Congress to be­gin im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against the pres­i­dent in this de­cid­edly blue state,” said Mark DiCamillo, who di­rects the Berkeley IGS poll. That “should serve as a cau­tion­ary note to con­gres­sional lead­ers,” he said.

Im­peach­ment has in­deed di­vided House Democrats. A group of about 60 mem­bers has pushed Pelosi to open a for­mal im­peach­ment in­quiry, which would be the first step to­ward po­ten­tially vot­ing to im­peach. Pelosi has re­sisted, ar­gu­ing that Democrats should im­peach Trump only if they can per­suade a large ma­jor­ity of the coun­try that the ev­i­dence clearly re­quires that move.

Un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion, if a ma­jor­ity of the House votes to im­peach, the Se­nate then must con­duct a trial. The pres­i­dent can be re­moved from of­fice if two-thirds of the Se­nate votes to do so. In the cur­rent Se­nate, that would re­quire the un­likely prospect of 20 Re­pub­li­cans vot­ing for con­vic­tion, as­sum­ing all 47 Democrats and in­de­pen­dents backed it.

Two pres­i­dents, An­drew John­son in 1868 and Bill Clin­ton in 1998, have been im­peached, but nei­ther was re­moved from of­fice. Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon re­signed in 1974 af­ter the House be­gan im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings, but be­fore a for­mal vote.

In Cal­i­for­nia, sup­port for im­peach­ment runs strong­est among the state’s most lib­eral vot­ers. About two-thirds of those who de­scribe them­selves as “very lib­eral” sup­port open­ing im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings, and about 3 in 10 in that group say Congress should con­tinue in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

By com­par­i­son, self-de­scribed mod­er­ates di­vide al­most equally among those who sup­port im­peach­ment, those who back in­ves­ti­gat­ing and those who want Congress to turn to other mat­ters.

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