California’s Democrats split on Trump impeachment, poll finds
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.