The Washington Post collaborated with the Schar School of Government at George Mason University on a poll that went deep into public attitudes toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible wrongdoing by the Donald Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
Of course, the real deliberations will not occur until we see what Mueller reports. And it’s quite possible that the Trump administration will do what it can to block the report from ever being made public. But based on the poll results, it’s very clear that an overwhelming majority of Americans trust Mueller more than they trust Trump.
Unsurprisingly, a majority of Republicans take the more pro-Trump view of every question, and a majority of Democrats take the anti-Trump view (although the anti-Trump margin among Democrats is wider than the pro-Trump margin among Republicans).
But what really kills President Trump in this poll is how poorly he does among those who call themselves independents. And those independents, 39 percent of the total sample, were more numerous than either those who called themselves Democrats (32 percent) or Republicans (26 percent). By overwhelming majorities, independents trust Mueller more than Trump and are ready to support impeachment if Mueller’s findings justify it.
It’s long been shown that many of those who call themselves independents tend to vote for the same party most of the time, but prefer to consider themselves independents. But any way you slice it, on every question, a large majority of those self-styled independents take the anti-Trump position, and if you take the total sample, in all cases, it leads to a large majority for that position.
A few examples:
Whose version of the facts are you most inclined to accept — (Donald Trump’s) or (Robert Mueller’s)?
Democrats: 86-10 say Mueller
Republicans: 17-74 say Trump
Independents: 57-29 say Mueller.
All adults: 56-33 say Mueller.
Do you think Mueller is mainly interested in (finding out the truth), or that he’s mainly interested in (hurting Trump politically)?
All adults: 57-36
Democrats say finding out the truth by 83-13
Republicans say hurting him politically by 72-24.
Independents say finding out the truth by 57-32.
If Mueller’s report concludes that Trump tried to interfere with the Russia investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice, would you support or oppose Congress impeaching Trump and trying to remove him from office?
Democrats 85-8 support impeachment
Republicans 60-36 oppose impeachment
Independents: 68-26 support impeachment
All adults: 65-29 support impeachment.
It would be silly to think that these results foreshadow how the story of this presidency ends. I still find it hard to imagine reaching the supermajorities in Congress necessary to impeach and remove. The number of Republican members of Congress who seem willing to abandon the Trump ship remains minuscule.
But if the attitudes reflected in the poll hold up and you were to try to apply them to the likelihood of the current incumbent successfully winning a term, they are extremely daunting.