Poll: Public views Trump-Ukraine charges as serious, but half say he shouldn't be removed

Image: Person votes during the midterm election at P.S. 140 in Manhattan, N
A person votes during the midterm election at P.S. 140 in Manhattan on Nov. 6, 2018. Copyright Andrew Kelly Reuters file
By Mark Murray with NBC News Politics
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A new NBC/WSJ poll also finds that the public's overall views of Donald Trump and Joe Biden remain virtually unchanged


WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans say the allegations that President Donald Trump asked a foreign leader to investigate 2020 rival Joe Biden are serious and need to be fully investigated, and they also believe the president hasn't been honest and truthful about his actions.

Still, the public is divided — largely along partisan lines — on whether Trump should be impeached and removed from office, with 43 percent supporting his removal given what they know today, versus 49 percent who oppose it.

And the overall standings of the two characters at the center of this story — Trump and Biden — are essentially unchanged.

Those are the findings from a new national poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, which was taken after House Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry into the allegations that President Trump asked Ukraine's president to investigate Biden and his son.

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The survey also comes after the White House released a transcription memo of Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's president, after the whistleblower's complaint that triggered this story became was released, and after text-message conversations between U.S. diplomats became public.

"What's powerful about this poll is what has not changed," said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart and his firm, Hart Research Associates

"At this time, this is not a story that has fundamentally reset American politics," McInturff added.

But Hart cautions that the story is only at its beginning.

"This is one poll at the beginning," Hart said. "And it's a different starting point than either [Richard] Nixon or [Bill] Clinton had" during their own impeachments.

According to the poll, 47 percent of Americans believe the allegations that Trump requested Ukraine's president to look into Joe Biden and his son are either "quite serious" or "extremely serious."

That includes 73 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of independents and even 21 percent of Republicans who say this.

By contrast, a combined 28 percent dismiss the allegations as either being not serious or false and without merit.

Twenty-five percent of respondents say they don't have an opinion or are unsure.

In a separate question, 51 percent say the allegations are serious and should be fully investigated, versus 44 percent who believe they're more of the same politically motivated attacks.

And just 38 percent of Americans agree with the statement that Trump has been honest and truthful when it comes to the investigation into his actions, while 53 percent say they disagree.

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"Americans view these allegations as being serious and having merit," said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates.


Asked what specific steps Congress should take, a combined 55 percent think either that there's enough evidence already for Congress to impeach Trump and remove him from office right now (24 percent), or that it should hold an impeachment inquiry to determine if there's enough evidence to do so in the future (31 percent).

That's compared with 39 percent of Americans who say that there isn't enough evidence for Congress to hold an impeachment inquiry, and that Trump should finish his term as president.

Then when narrowed down to what they support based upon what they know today, 43 percent believe Congress should impeach and remove him from office, while 49 percent say he shouldn't be impeached and should remain in office.

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Democrats overwhelmingly support Trump's removal (75 percent to 17 percent), and Republicans oppose it (85 percent to 11 percent).


Among independents, 45 percent say he shouldn't be removed from office, versus 39 percent who say he should.

"The one thing that we do know from history is that impeachment and removing a president is a far different political animal than getting to just 50 percent of the vote in an election," Horwitt added. "Even if a majority of Americans support impeachment, what really matters is Trump's standing with Republicans."

Trump's job approval stands at 43 percent

The NBC/WSJ poll also shows that 43 percent of Americans approve of Trump's job performance, while 53 percent disapprove — essentially unchanged from where it's been in the poll over the last year and half.

In September, Trump's job rating stood at 45 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove among registered voters.

In August, it was 43 percent approve, 55 percent disapprove among all adults.


To compare Trump's standing with past presidents, Bill Clinton had a 68 percent job-approval rating in the NBC/WSJ poll when the Republican-led House of Representatives began its impeachment inquiry in October 1998.

Richard Nixon's approval was at just 25 percent when the House began its impeachment inquiry in May 1974, according to Gallup.

Biden's standing is essentially unchanged, too

And the NBC/WSJ poll finds that attitudes have largely remained the same about former Vice President Joe Biden.

Thirty-three percent of Americans say they have a positive view of the Democratic presidential candidate, while 34 percent have a negative view (-1).

In August, Biden's fav/unfav rating was 34 percent positive, 38 percent negative (-4).


"Biden is fundamentally in the same position," said McInturff, the GOP pollster.

Trump's fav/unfav in the poll is 38 percent positive, 53 percent negative (-15).

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Oct. 4-6 of 800 adults — more than half via cell phone — and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.5 percent points.

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