Michigan voters oppose impeachment hearings for Trump
Michigan voters oppose House lawmakers launching impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, though they're split on whether he committed obstruction of justice, according to a new statewide poll.
The survey conducted last week of 600 likely Michigan voters and released to The Detroit News and WDIV-TV found that nearly 53 percent are opposed to the U.S. House starting impeachment hearings, while about 40 percent support impeaching Trump.
About 41 percent of respondents "strongly" oppose impeachment, while 27 percent "strongly" support it. Opposition to impeachment hearings was particularly high among independent voters at 59 percent.
"What’s interesting to me in these numbers is it’s very clear to me (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi is reading the same numbers," said Richard Czuba, who conducted the poll for the Lansing-based Glengariff Group.
"Democrats are increasingly agitated towards impeachment. They’re up to 70 percent of Democrats now believe impeachment hearings should begin, but the difficulty in that argument is independent voters are not there."
Whether independents' support for impeachment grows will be key to watch in the coming months, he added.
"Democrats can’t do it just with Democratic voters behind them," Czuba said. "They need the independent voters behind them and, as Speaker Pelosi has pointed out, they have to make that case, but those voters are not there yet."
The poll found that 43 percent of Michigan voters polled say Trump did obstruct justice in relation to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, while 42 percent say he did not. Another 15 percent of respondents said they don't know.
"It appears very much like it’s even," Czuba said. "Of course, you have Republicans who absolutely believe he did not, Democrats who obviously believe he did obstruct justice, and independents are torn."
The survey, conducted May 28-30, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. About 65 percent of respondents were reached on landline phones, while 35 percent were contacted on cellphones.
Impeachment has support in Michigan's congressional delegation from two House members: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who has introduced a resolution backing impeachment, and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, who is the only GOP lawmaker to break with Trump over Mueller's findings.
During the time last week when the survey was conducted, Mueller gave a news conference in Washington. The former Federal Bureau of Investigation director made clear he was legally barred from charging a sitting president with a crime, while repeating that his report did not exonerate the president.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said.
Attorney General Bill Barr had decided separately from Mueller that the evidence in his report was insufficient to warrant obstruction charges against Trump, but Mueller suggested in his remarks that it falls to Congress to determine if action should be taken against Trump.
Michigan voters' impression of the president or his approval rating has remained largely unchanged during the last two years, according to the new survey.
Nearly 37 percent of voters had a favorable view of Trump, compared with 54 percent unfavorable. About 44 percent approve of the job the president is doing, while 52 percent disapprove.
White voters narrowly support the president's job performance 51 percent to 46 percent, while black voters strongly disapprove 8 percent to 87 percent.
Men approve of the job Trump is doing 50 percent to 46 percent, while 58 percent of women disapprove, including half of white college-educated women surveyed.
Based on the source of news, those who primarily watch Fox News had the highest view of Trump's job performance (84 percent).
Asked if they were better or worse off than four years ago, 38 percent of respondents said better off while 36 percent said they were the same, and 25 percent said worse off.
“President Trump has accomplished more at this point in his first term than any president in history. His policies are building a safer, stronger, and more secure America," White House spokeswoman Meghan K. Burris said.
"From record low unemployment and a booming economy, to combating the opioid epidemic, and negotiating stronger trade deals, President Trump has kept his promises to the American people — in Michigan and across the country."
Czuba noted GOP voters were the driving force behind the "better off" figure, with over 61 percent of Republicans saying they are better off than four years ago.
Roughly 43 percent of independent voters said they are the same, while 36 percent said they are better off, and 20 percent said they are worse.
Staff writer Jonathan Oosting contributed