CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Democratic leaders in Congress have announced two impeachment counts against President Donald Trump, but most West Virginians do not believe the president should be impeached or removed from office.
That’s according to the latest version of the MetroNews West Virginia Poll, which shows 59 percent of West Virginia voters believe Congress should not impeach Trump and that he should remain in office.
The poll shows 34 percent of West Virginians do believe the president should be impeached and then removed.
And 7 percent say they are not sure.
“In West Virginia with the benefit of the media coverage of the last several days, you have almost 60 percent saying he should not be impeached or removed from office,” said Rex Repass, president of Research America Inc., which conducts the West Virginia Poll.
Impeachment hearings have focused on whether Trump abused the power of the presidency by holding up meetings and congressionally-approved aid to the Ukraine, which is at war with Russia, in exchange for investigations that could be politically helpful.
Leaders in Congress’s Democratic majority announced Tuesday that two articles of impeachment will be considered. The two articles are abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
A vote of the House Judiciary Committee is expected Thursday with the full House of Representatives voting next week. The Republican-led Senate is likely to conduct an impeachment trial after the new year.
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The West Virginia Poll included responses from 500 registered likely voters from all over the state.
Surveys were conducted between Dec. 4 and 10, a period when the House Judiciary Committee had hearings to consider the constitutional issues surrounding impeachment and then reviewed evidence.
“The interviewing period covered the days where the hearings were taking place. And whether you watched or read a little bit about the content had some effect on the respondents,” Repass said.
But in West Virginia, where Trump won the General Election vote over Hillary Clinton by 68 percent to 26 percent, the president’s support remains consistently strong.
The West Virginia Poll asked about impeachment a couple of different ways, with questions echoing those posed by NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls.
One question asked West Virginia likely voters to weigh the evidence against Trump.
Fifty-four percent of West Virginia Poll respondents said there is not enough evidence for Congress to hold an impeachment inquiry against Trump and that he should finish his term as president.
The national figure for that question was 39 percent saying there’s not even enough evidence for the inquiry.
“A majority in West Virginia indicate there is not enough evidence for Congress to even hold an impeachment inquiry,” Repass said.
Just 14 percent of West Virginia Poll respondents said the inquiry is necessary to weigh the evidence. That compared to 31 percent nationally.
And a quarter of respondents both in West Virginia and nationally said there is enough evidence right now to impeach Trump and remove him from office.
There are some variations among different groups of West Virginians.
For example, 50 percent of Democrats say there is enough evidence to impeach and remove Trump, while only 2.2 percent of Republicans say that.
There’s a little more support for impeachment in northern counties, 28 percent, than in southern counties, 22 percent.
And responses by younger voters generally show more acceptance of the impeachment inquiry.
“There are some differences but as a whole the electorate in West Virginia stands pretty strongly behind President Trump,” Repass said.
The Grill on Charleston’s West Side is a longstanding gathering spot where political discussion is often on the menu. During a busy lunch hour on Tuesday, a few customers shared their thoughts on impeachment.
“My general impression is that both sides have gone crazy over it,” said Fred Holroyd, an 89-year-old Charleston attorney who still goes to work each day at his law office just up the street.
Holroyd, who was seated with friends at a big table, said he was born and raised a Democrat, then turned Republican “after the Democrats became so damn crazy” and now views himself as independent. He toggles between Fox News and CNN.
He’s concluded that Congress is likely to impeach the president while the Senate is unlikely to remove Trump from office. After that, citizens can weigh the matter through the electoral process.
Holroyd said too much has been made of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that included a request to “do us a favor, though.”
“My God, you go back to the deals that Roosevelt and Truman and Eisenhower and all those folks, even Kennedy — the deals that they made — this is nothing compared to what they’ve done,” he said.
“I don’t see anything wrong with it. Certainly wouldn’t change my mind if he said ‘there’s a rumor here that Biden’s son has cut a deal with your government and I want you to check into it and see if it’s tied into money going into Ukraine.'”
Across the restaurant was 35-year-old Rafael Barker, who was thinking about impeachment differently while dining on the daily special of sausage and sauerkraut with a side of macaroni salad. He said he is not a Trump voter.
Barker has been following impeachment, not wall-to-wall but through late-evening snippets on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” or “The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.”
The fractured nature of media makes it challenging to be engrossed in the testimony, the evidence or even the specific accusations in the articles of impeachment.
“Do I necessarily know the definition of each of those being presented and the full scope of what they’re asserting as the House Democratic Party? I don’t,” Barker said
“Do I have a general perception of ‘Yes, there is likely some form of wrongdoing on the part of different people in the political system at the highest level?’ Sure. I definitely feel that way.”
Still, Barker wonders, “Is it egregious enough for impeachment? I don’t know.”
Even as all this debate has divided the country’s opinions, Trump’s popularity in West Virginia has seemingly gained strength.
The West Virginia Poll shows that his job approval in West Virginia is 61 percent.
That’s up 7 percent since the last round of the West Virginia Poll in August. Repass said one factor is the current poll provides a higher level of screening for likely voters.
Trump’s popularity in West Virginia is very different from how the country as a whole views him. Trump’s national approval rating was 45 percent in October, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll.
“West Virginia voters continue to be enthusiastic about Donald Trump,” Repass said.
Results of this edition of MetroNews West Virginia Poll are based on interviews conducted between Dec. 2-10, 2019 with a sample of 500 West Virginia registered voters who are likely to vote in the May 2020 primary, including registered Democrats, Republicans, Libertarian, Mountain Party, and unaffiliated or independent voters. Data collection was completed online and by telephone with purchased sample of registered voters who are likely to vote in primaries.
Registered likely voters in all 55 West Virginia counties were sampled for the survey and modeled to the number of registered voters based on data from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.
When using sample of registered voters and hybrid data collection (online and telephone) it is not appropriate to apply a probability-based margin of error to interviews completed. However, applying statistical tests of significance to each question asked at the 95 percent confidence interval yields an overall statistical error of +/- 4.4 percentage points based on the 500 interviews. The 95 percent confidence interval varies by question.
The purpose of the West Virginia Poll is to provide a snapshot of opinion and timely voter views in the Mountain State. The media sponsor of the West Virginia Poll is MetroNews Radio Network.
Rex Repass is director of the West Virginia Poll and president of Research America Inc. Repass is responsible for questionnaire design, the respondent screening and selection process, data tabulation, statistical analysis, and reporting of results.
The MetroNews West Virginia Poll is a non-partisan survey of public opinion conducted by Repass and Research America Inc. The West Virginia Poll has been directed by Repass and conducted periodically since January 21, 1980. The name The West Virginia Poll is a trademark owned by Research America Inc., all rights reserved.