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Partisans dig in on impeachment, but majority of Americans say Trump administration should cooperate with inquiry — CBS News Poll

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While a majority of Americans says the Trump administration should cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, most Republicans disagree and feel the administration should not, as the partisan divide has hardened on impeachment matters in the last two weeks. 

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Republicans — most of whom were already opposed to the inquiry — have become increasingly hardened in their opinions.

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The nation remains split over whether or not President Trump should ultimately be impeached over his actions regarding Ukraine, with one in five feeling it is too soon to say. Those numbers have not moved from two weeks ago in any meaningful way. 

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While partisans have gone quickly to opposing views, those who feel "it is too soon to say" don't look like they're actively engaged with the story: most of them tell us they are not paying much attention to the matter. Moreover, nearly two-thirds of those in the "too soon" camp feel congressional Democrats' descriptions of events have been hard for them to follow – and about two-thirds also say Mr. Trump's version of events has been "hard to follow." Those gaps in both attention and perceived clarity may define a challenge both sides face trying to move public opinion beyond their base, as Congress returns.

In principle, a majority of Americans (including most Democrats and independents) says a U.S. president should not be able to ask other countries for help with U.S. election campaigns. Republicans' views are mixed on this, however. One-third of Republicans say a president should not be able to ask that — and fewer think a president should be able to — but many say it depends.

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Twenty-nine percent of Americans describe the president's actions regarding Ukraine as proper and another 27% say they were still legal, if improper. Forty-four percent — including most Democrats — call the actions illegal. A majority of Republicans (61%) say the president's actions, specifically, were proper. And they continue to view the call with that country's president as typical of something past U.S. presidents have also done.

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But even among that smaller number of Republicans who say a U.S. president should not ask foreign countries for help with U.S. elections, most of them still disapprove of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump and don't think his actions regarding Ukraine were illegal.

Rank and file Republicans want congressional Republicans to defend President Trump on Ukraine.  Very few think they should criticize him. A quarter say congressional Republicans should wait and see more facts before deciding what to do.

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Support for the inquiry itself remains distinct and relatively higher than belief that the actions deserve impeachment, an important separation to make. Overall, Americans' support or opposition to the inquiry itself — while still majority support — is essentially unchanged from where it was. The inquiry has not gained support from independents, compared to two weeks ago.

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Large majorities of Democrats continue to approve of Congress' inquiry and to think President Trump deserves to be impeached. Democrats were approving of the inquiry already, and the number who strongly approve instead of just somewhat approve has increased. 

While most Americans overall describe the impeachment inquiry as at least a serious matter, and most Democrats call it critical, three in four Republicans see it as a political distraction.

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Syria

As the impeachment debate continues, many Americans have yet to form an opinion about President Trump's recent decision to remove U.S. troops from Syria, though more disapprove of the decision than approve of it.

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Far more Republicans approve than disapprove of the decision, but many Republicans have yet to make a decision. Most Democrats disapprove.

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Biden and Ukraine

There is little consensus on whether Donald Trump's assertions concerning Joe Biden and his son regarding Ukraine deserve further investigation: 42% say they do, while 32% say the assertions do not, with a quarter saying it is too soon to say.

Partisan positions are also hardening on this. Now, 54% of Democrats don't think the assertions deserve further investigation (up from 46% two weeks ago), while the percentage of Republicans that thinks they do has risen slightly as well. Democrats and Republicans who have heard or read a lot about the matter are even more likely to stick to these basic positions.

Overall, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are viewed more unfavorably than favorably by Americans overall, though more are neutral in the case of Biden.

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Views are largely partisan, though the president gets a higher favorable rating from members of his party than the former vice president gets among Democrats. Trump gets his strongest support among the most conservative members of the Republican Party, while Biden is viewed more favorably by moderate Democrats, compared to those who describe themselves as very liberal.

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Three prominent lawmakers involved in the impeachment debate — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff — all have net unfavorable ratings among Americans overall, though they are viewed more favorably than unfavorably by members of their own parties.


The CBS News survey is conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,501 U.S. residents interviewed between October 8-11, 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 +/- 2.1 points.

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