Although President Donald Trump has faced a barrage of new scandals over the past few weeks and is now staring down the prospect of impeachment for the Ukraine whistleblower affair, polls taken in recent days do not reveal any noticeable drop in the president's approval rating.
But according to CNBC reporter John Harwood, Trump should not take that as a good sign. In fact, he argued, the polls reveal something more subtle has shifted in the Republican electorate — something that could threaten to derail his chances of re-election, if not outright defeat him in a Senate impeachment trial.
"Last week’s Monmouth University poll showed signs of movement within a broader portrait of stability. Buoyed by backing from 86% of Republicans, Trump’s approval rating remained unchanged: 41% of Americans approved of his job performance, 53% disapproved. At the same time, the share of Republicans backing a House impeachment inquiry doubled to 16% from 8% in August," wrote Harwood. "A CBS News poll found 23% of Republicans backing an impeachment probe. In a USA Today survey, 30% of Republicans called it “an abuse of power” for Trump to ask Ukraine to investigate Biden."
These numbers imply that even a sizeable fraction of Republicans who approve of the job Trump is doing are willing to take an impeachment proceeding seriously, and listen to the evidence against the president. And that, Harwood, wrote, could spell disaster for him.
"Even if they haven’t broken with their party’s president, those Republicans pose a particular danger to Trump, who once bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York without losing support," wrote Harwood. "'The willingness to hear this out is a sign that you’re not a Fifth Avenue Republican,' says GOP strategist Liam Donovan."
Also worrisome for Trump, Harwood noted, is that even Republicans who do not believe the president committed an impeachable offense are accepting the premise that he still acted improperly. For example, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), while disputing the idea impeachment was necessary, said Trump's comments about Biden were "not appropriate."
"The fact that mainstream Republicans entertain the discussion while watching the polls underscores Trump’s heightened peril," concluded Harwood.