The Trump Impeachment Trial

An AP-NORC Poll conducted in January 2020 assesses attitudes toward the Senate impeachment trial.

​In this January 2020 AP-NORC national survey, 45% of Americans say the Senate should vote to convict Donald Trump, removing him from office, while 40% do not think the president should be convicted. The public has little confidence in the objectivity of the Senate when it comes to the impeachment trial, and few expect to learn anything that would reverse their opinion about impeachment.

Interviewing for the survey began January 16, 2020, the day Chief Justice John Roberts swore in the senators officially beginning the trial to determine whether or not Trump is removed from office, and concluded January 21, the day the trial started in earnest with a debate over the trial’s rules.

Views on impeachment continue to be highly related to partisanship.  Among Democrats, 80% say the Senate should convict the president, while 83% of Republicans think the Senate should not.  Regardless of party identification, the public feels strongly about whether or not Trump should be convicted by the Senate.

Question: As you may know, the House of Representatives has voted to impeach Donald Trump, and the Senate will hold a trial to decide whether to convict Trump, which would remove him from office. Do you think the Senate should or should not remove him from office, or don’t you know enough to say? If should or should not: Do you feel that way strongly, or not? Those with no opinion are not shown.
Source: AP-NORC poll conducted January 16-21, 2020 with 1,353 adults nationwide.

Few Americans, regardless of party identification, expect to learn anything during the Senate trial that might change their opinion about removing Trump from office.  Seventy-five percent consider it unlikely that the Senate trial will provide any information that would change their mind about convicting Trump, 18% say it is somewhat likely, and only 7% think it is likely their minds would change based on evidence provided during the trial.

Further, there is not much confidence that the Senate will conduct a fair trial.  Only 13% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence in the fairness of the trial. And 69% of the public say the administration’s top aides should be allowed to testify at the impeachment trial.

But while 78% of Democrats say the administration is not cooperating enough with the Senate, 77% of Republicans think the administration is cooperating the right amount.

Compared to October 2019, the public is slightly more likely to say the president has done something wrong, whether illegal or just unethical, with regard to Ukraine. The proportion of independents who think the president did something illegal increased by 7 percentage points in the last three months. In that same time, the percentage of Republicans who say the president did nothing wrong decreased by 10 percentage points.

Question: When it comes to Donald Trump’s interactions with the president of Ukraine, do you think Trump has done something illegal, or he has done something unethical, but not illegal, or do you think he has not done anything wrong?
Sources: AP-NORC polls conducted October 24-28, 2019, with 1,075 adults and .January 16-21, 2020 with 1,353 adults.

However, the House vote on impeachment has not affected the president’s overall approval rating.  Forty-one percent approve of how Trump’s handling his job and 58% disapprove.  These numbers are not significantly different from his approval ratings in AP-NORC surveys taken throughout the fall.

The nationwide poll was conducted January 16-21, 2020, using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,353 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.