Republicans see impeachment backfiring. Democrats fear they may be right.
By Gabriella Borter and Brendan O'Brien and Andrew Hay and Zachary Fagenson
10 hrs ago
FILE PHOTO/Reuters A Reuters/Ipsos poll taken on Monday and Tuesday showed 37% of respondents favored impeaching the president versus 45% who were opposed.
Sept 26 (Reuters) - Having his morning coffee and cigarette outside a Starbucks in one the most politically contested counties in the United States, Richard Sibilla recoils at the memory of President Donald Trump's election.
But impeach him now? Sibilla can see little upside.
"After this he has a much better chance of winning another election, as scary as that sounds," said Sibilla, 39, a resident of Pinellas County, Florida, who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. "It's not even worth following because it's all going to help him."
Alarmed by a whistleblower's revelations that Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the 2020 Democratic presidential front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives this week launched a formal impeachment inquiry into the Republican president.
Among the public, interviews with more than 60 voters across four of the most important counties in the 2020 election showed Republicans largely confident the impeachment process will backfire and Trump will win re-election. Democrats, on the other hand, are worried they may be right.
[Pics] Elderly Couple Dies, Then Grandson Rips Up Their Old Carpet To Find A Treasure Locked Into Floor
Slide 1 of 39: Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y. holds up a copy of a White House released rough transcript of a phone call between President Donald Trump and the President of Ukraine as Schumer speaks to the media about an impeachment inquiry on President Trump, Wednesday Sept. 25, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
1/39 SLIDES Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y. holds up a copy of a White House-released rough transcript of a phone call between President Donald Trump and the President of Ukraine as Schumer speaks to the media about an impeachment inquiry on President Trump, on Sept. 25, on Capitol Hill.
2/39 SLIDES Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks to a coalition of progressive activist groups, including MoveOn.org, holding a rally at the Capitol calling on Congress to impeach President Trump on Sept. 26.
3/39 SLIDES Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MoveOn Political Action
Members of Congress and activists support an immediate inquiry towards articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the “Impeachment Now!” rally on Sept. 26, in Washington, D.C.
4/39 SLIDES Zach Gibson/Getty Images
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on Sept. 26, in Washington, DC. Speaker Pelosi discussed an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
5/39 SLIDES J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Brett Heinz of Washington and other activists rally for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, on Sept. 26.
6/39 SLIDES Wilson Ring/AP Photo
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott speaks at a news conference on Sept. 26, in Essex Junction, Vt., where he said he supports an impeachment inquiry into the actions of President Donald Trump. Scott is the first Republican governor to publicly come out in favor of the impeachment inquiry, but says he wants to know the facts before any further actions are taken.
7/39 SLIDES Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) speaks to the press after addressing the "People's Rally for Impeachment" in Washington, DC, on Sept. 26.
8/39 SLIDES Lucas Jackson/Reuters
A woman hands out fake "special editions" of the Washington Post to passing pedestrians while taking part in a demonstration in support of impeachment hearings in New York, on Sept. 26.
9/39 SLIDES Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., talks to Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, after Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 26.
10/39 SLIDES Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
A member of the audience holds a copy of the whistle-blower complaint letter sent to Senate and House Intelligence Committees during testimony by Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire before the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 26.
11/39 SLIDES Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
A woman holds a sign about whistleblowers in a cafe near President Donald Trump’s motorcade as he attends a campaign fundraiser nearby in New York, on Sept. 26.
12/39 SLIDES Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Police stand outside of Trump Tower on Sept. 26, in New York City.
13/39 SLIDES Leah Millis/Reuters
Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire is sworn in to testify before a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the handling of the whistleblower complaint in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Sept. 26.
14/39 SLIDES Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 26.
15/39 SLIDES Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., questions Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire,as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 26.
16/39 SLIDES Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 26.
17/39 SLIDES Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., questions Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 26.
18/39 SLIDES Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Joseph Maguire testifies on Sept. 26.
19/39 SLIDES Al Drago/Reuters
U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) reacts after conferring with U.S. House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) as Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, testifies during a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 26.
20/39 SLIDES Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Joseph Maguire prepares to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on the whistleblower complaint against President Trump on Sept. 26.
21/39 SLIDES Zach Gibson/Getty Images
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during a weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on Sept. 26 in Washington. Leader McCarthy discussed an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
22/39 SLIDES J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrives at the Capitol, on Sept. 26, just as Joseph Maguire is set to speak publicly for the first time about a secret whistleblower complaint involving President Donald Trump.
23/39 SLIDES Evan Vucci/AP Photo
President Trump speaks during a news conference at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can be seen standing on the right.
24/39 SLIDES Wayne Partlow/AP Photo
Pages of a White House-released rough transcript of President Donald Trump's July 25, 2019 telephone conversation with Ukraine's newly elected President Volodymyr Zelenskiy are seen on Sept. 25.
25/39 SLIDES J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters on Sept. 25.
26/39 SLIDES J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is surrounded by reporters as she arrives to meet with her caucus on Sept. 25.
27/39 SLIDES Alex Wong/Getty Images
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) arrives at a House Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 25, in Washington.
28/39 SLIDES Alex Wong/Getty Images
U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of House Judiciary Committee, arrives with Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) at a House Democratic Caucus meeting, on Sept. 25, in Washington.
29/39 SLIDES Alex Wong/Getty Images
U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), and House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) look on during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, on Sept. 25, in Washington.
30/39 SLIDES Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
People stop to look at newspaper front pages, from around the US, on display at the Newseum in Washington, a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump, on Sept. 25.
31/39 SLIDES Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the House of Representatives will launch a formal inquiry into the impeachment of President Trump following a closed House Democratic caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Sept. 24.
32/39 SLIDES Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
Protesters with "Kremlin Annex" call to impeach President Donald Trump in Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House in Washington, on Sept. 24.
33/39 SLIDES Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Members of the White House press corps, holding in the Trump Bar at Trump Tower, watch House Speaker Pelosi live on television as she announces the impeachment investigation, in New York City, on Sept. 24.
34/39 SLIDES Alex Wong/Getty Images
House Speaker Pelosi walks towards the podium to speak to the media to announce the formal impeachment, on Sept. 24.
35/39 SLIDES J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
House Speaker Pelosi departs a closed-door meeting with the House Democratic Caucus as support grows within her ranks for an impeachment inquiry amid reports that President Donald Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family, on Sept. 24.
36/39 SLIDES Tom Brenner/Reuters
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks to news reporters following an impeachment proceeding announcement, on Sept. 24.
37/39 SLIDES Mark Wilson/Getty Images
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) leaves a meeting with House Speaker Pelosi and walks to a meeting with the House Democratic caucus to discuss launching possible impeachment proceedings against President Trump, on Sept. 24.
38/39 SLIDES Tom Brenner/Reuters
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL.) speaks to news reporters following the impeachment proceeding announcement, on Sept. 24.
39/39 SLIDES Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden makes a statement on Ukraine during a press conference, on Sept. 24, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Marc Devlin, a 48-year-old consultant from Northampton County, Pennsylvania, said he expects the inquiry to "incense" supporters of the president. "This is my fear, that it will actually add some flame to his fire with his base," he said. "I just fear 'party over country.'"
Throughout the 2020 election cycle, Reuters is monitoring voters in four areas that could determine the outcome of the Nov. 3 presidential contest: Pinellas County, Florida; Maricopa County, Arizona; Northampton County, Pennsylvania; and Racine County, Wisconsin.
Given the sharply divided electorate and the rules in America's state-by-state races that determine the winner in the Electoral College, those four states will be among the most targeted by presidential candidates next year.
Public opinion has time to shift before voters cast their ballots next November. But for now, the prospect of impeachment has done little to sway opinions, largely formed along party lines, according to the interviews and polling.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll taken on Monday and Tuesday showed 37% of respondents favored impeaching the president versus 45% who were opposed. That 37% figure was down from 41% three weeks earlier and down from 44% in May, after the release of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
"I don't think he did anything wrong," said Joe D'Ambrosio, 78, who runs a barber shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and cheers Trump's efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.
Lee Snover, chair of the Northampton County Republican Committee, said she felt the impeachment inquiry was the latest instance of the Democrats using unfair tactics to try to take Trump down. It showed, she said, how disconnected Washington's politicians are from the country.
"I have not had one Republican crack or say they're turning or going the other way. They're laughing it off. I think it's going to help him," said Snover, 50.
That sentiment was shared at a meeting of College Republicans United at Arizona State University on Wednesday.
"They have this idea that everyone is siding with them, that Trump is an impeachable president, when really it's only a minority," Rose Mulet, 19, said of the Democratic leadership in Congress. "It's not a reflection of the general public."
Moreover, odds of impeachment succeeding are long. None of America's 45 presidents have even been removed that way. Though the Democrats control the House of Representatives, where they need a simple majority of votes, the Senate, controlled by Republicans, would have to vote with a two-thirds majority to remove the president from office.
That reality has only frustrated Democrats angered by what they see as a string of offenses by Trump, from bragging about grabbing women by the genitals to Mueller's conclusion that Trump interfered with his probe.
"I am enraged," said Barbara Lebak, a 66-year-old librarian who was working her way through a crossword puzzle from a bench in Racine County, Wisconsin.
Like Lebak, fellow Racine County resident David Ferrell, 56, said he saw multiple reasons to impeach Trump, including what he called the president's hardline policies on immigration and inflammation of race relations.
"What has taken so long? It should have been done long ago," said Ferrell. "I'm voting for a Democrat, no matter who it is."
While polls and interviews suggest most voters are solidly entrenched, some, like Chris Harman, have been swayed.
Harman, 52, who works in sales and marketing in Maricopa County, said he voted for Trump in 2016 but will not in 2020. He said the president had already committed impeachable offenses even before the Ukraine scandal erupted.
"It should have been done a long time ago," Harman said as he left a baseball game in Phoenix. "I'm not voting for Trump. I tried it, it was a grand experiment, but I'm not going to try it again."
(Reporting by Zachary Fagensen in Florida, Gabriella Borter in Pennsylvania, Andrew Hay in Arizona, and Brendan O'Brien in Wisconin; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis)