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ARG and others on Impeachment

Topics: Impeachment

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American Research Group (ARG) asked 1100 respondents 7/3-5/07:

    Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush?

The results found 45% in favor and 46% opposed, with 9% undecided.

Those are striking numbers, but deserve a bit of context.

First, as anyone would expect, there are sharp partisan divisions on this question, with 69% of Democrats, 50% of independents and 13% of Republicans support impeachment proceedings. One might wonder if 13% of Republicans supporting the impeachment of their president is really a credible estimate here. It seems large, given continued Republican support for President Bush in job approval in comparison to that of Democrats and independents.

Likewise, we might wonder if support for impeachment has risen in the immediate aftermath of the Libby sentence commutation.

ARG asked an impeachment question in a poll taken 3/13-15/06. Those results are shown in the top right panel of the plot. There the findings were 42% in favor and 49% opposed. (There was a slight difference in question wording as well.) In that March poll, 61% of Democrats, 47% of independents and 18% of Republicans favored impeachment. So this comparison suggests a small increase in support overall, and among Dems and independents, and a small DECREASE in support for impeachment among Republicans since the March survey. But these are modest changes, not large increases in impeachment sentiment.

One might also ask if the ARG survey results are typical of responses in other polls. There the answer is no, the ARG results show more support for impeachment than other polls do.

At the same time as the ARG March survey, Newsweek's poll taken 3/16-17/06, used a slightly different wording but found 26% in favor of impeachment, 69% opposed, well below the 42% ARG found at that time. Newsweek also found very low levels of support for impeachment among Republicans (5%) which seems more reasonable to me. Like ARG, the Newsweek survey found large partisan variation, though with less impeachment support in each partisan category than in the ARG survey (49% Dem, 23% Ind, 5% Rep.)

As for trend over time, the latest poll prior to the new ARG that asked about impeachment was a Time/SRBI poll taken 11/1-3/06, just before the election. That appears in the bottom right of the plot. Their results were 25% in favor, 70% opposed and 5% undecided, VERY similar to the March Newsweek results. Finally, the breakdowns by party in the Time/SRBI poll are also similar to the earlier Newsweek: 48% Dem, 22% Ind, and 4% Rep in favor of impeachment.

The conclusion is that there is little evidence for a substantial increase in support for impeachment, over the past 16 months, and the ARG results appear to be at the high end of support in comparison to other polling. It would be nice to have another new poll to compare with the current ARG results to see if this pattern has continued.

Cross-posted at Political Arithmetik.

 

Comments
Andrew:

Among Bush's impeachable offenses i can recall these:
1-Lying us into war
2-Spying on Americans without a court order
3-Torturing many innocent prisoners in Iraq

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Till:

#2 is the only unambiguously, demonstrable illegal act. Bush has effectively admitted to violating FISA many, many times, for no coherent reason other than to bypass the oversight process.

#1 isn't a crime, and is much more difficult to prove. While you might argue that the Constitution doesn't necessarily specify breaking the law as a prerequisite for impeachment, that is the implication, and I feel it's foolish to include this as legitimate grounds for impeachment. If impeachment is to be taken seriously, it must be treated as a means for upholding the rule of law, and not as a vindictive political act.

#3 is virtually impossible to prove without extensive cooperation from the military and CIA at least. Beyond Guantanamo, it's not clear how much the President has to do with "extraordinary rendition" and other atrocities.

But let's be realistic. It will never happen. We have a Democratic Congress, elected by a public overwhelmingly opposed to the war, that doesn't even have the guts to end the war. It is entirely their fault that defunding as a means to end the war has been so effectively demonized. They backed themselves into a corner, and positively ran towards a "compromise" the instant the timeline bill was vetoed. Actually, before...see Barack Obama's statement about not wanting to "play chicken with our troops". Any hope of real change or action died when they caved on that fight.

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Again: why is ARG taken seriously?

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This is just anectodal, but my girlfriend, an independent voter who hasn't followed this polling or the impeachment bill in Congress, just walked into my room to say that Bush should be impeached for the Libby thing. She went on to say that when Bush won, she said she would support him because he was our President, but America is about being able to say that the President is wrong, that he cheated, and that he should be replaced.

I have to say, I was already sensing a shift among voters this week who have thus far not considered impeachment; non-politicial junkies who were generally tuned out on the endless details of the Libby trial, but understand what just happened as clear as day.

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Force the ending of the Occupation before Bush's term is completed and that will get two birds with one stone.

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Bruce Moomaw:

Well, we now have another poll confirming that support for it is rising very rapidly: Rasmussen. Their poll today ( http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/39_favor_impeaching_bush ) shows opposition to Bush being "impeached and removed from office" by only 49-39, with 12%saying they Haven't Decided. Independents oppose it by only 5 points (18 months ago, they opposed it by 21 points). Voters under 30 favor it by 18 points (with only 6% of them undecided). Combine this with that mildly Dem-biased ARG poll, and clearly this is no longer a "fringe idea". The SMM (Sluggish Mainstream Media) had better catch onto the fact.

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Frank Saxon:

Bush should be impeached for his failure to secure our borders, not for anything the libs want. That is why so many "former"Republicans would vote for his impeachment.

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Frank Saxon:

Bush should be impeached for his failure to secure our borders, not for anything the libs want. That is why so many "former"Republicans would vote for his impeachment.

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Frank Saxon:

Bush should be impeached for his failure to secure our borders, not for anything the libs want. That is why so many "former"Republicans would vote for his impeachment.

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SanFranciscoJim:

Bush should be impeached for violating the Geneva Convention and the War Crimes Act. His own AG warned him that his treatment of the Guantanamo POWs would open him up to that charge.

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Lk:

Why bother impeaching Bush? He's already impeached himself anyways. I only wish we could amend the constitution to allow him to run for a third term and see him get slaughtered in the popular vote and in the Electoral College. But he's a Bush, so I suspect he would not have the guts to run. The Bushes have never been Reagan Republicans anyways. They belong in the Demoocratic Party.

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Lk:

Why bother impeaching Bush? He's already impeached himself anyways. I only wish we could amend the constitution to allow him to run for a third term and see him get slaughtered in the popular vote and in the Electoral College. But he's a Bush, so I suspect he would not have the guts to run. The Bushes have never been Reagan Republicans anyways. They belong in the Demoocratic Party.

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Andrew:

Why is Pollster.com comparing a June-2007 poll (ARG) with a March, 2006 poll (Newsweek)? That is stupid if you ask me. Attitudes change every months, sometimes every week, and you compare two polls separated by 16 months? Weird.

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Thomas:

if Rasmussen says opposition to impeachment is 49%, you bet it's lower than that, since Rasmussen constantly shows Bush approval 5%-9% higher than other polls.

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Andrew,

Thanks for the comment.

The comparison I am making is between ARG in March 2006 with Newsweek taken the same week. This allows us to guage how ARG compares with another poll at an identical time. As I say in the text of the post:

"At the same time as the ARG March survey, Newsweek's poll taken 3/16-17/06, used a slightly different wording but found 26% in favor of impeachment, 69% opposed, well below the 42% ARG found at that time."

That provides an estimate of how much ARG's sample and question differs from others. Newsweek's 26% is in line with a number of other polls on impeachment taken in 2006, so that suggests that ARG is well above others.

The current ARG is 45% in favor, up from their 42% in March 06. So the conclusion would be that other polls would be expected to fall in the high-20s or so, based on the March 2006 comparison.

So that's why we do this.

Charles

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Andrew:

Thanks Charles for the clarification.

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