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February 18, 2020

12/17/2019 7:25:00 AM
With impeachment pending, Trump moves up in polls
President 'well-positioned' in key battleground states

Richard Moore
Investigative Reporter

While they differ in margin, a parade of polls in the past two weeks finds the American public souring on the idea of removing President Trump from office ahead of next November's election, with several polls showing Trump gaining in support against his Democratic rivals.

In a poll of likely voters conducted Dec. 3-5, the firm Firehouse Strategies found Trump well-positioned against leading Democratic contenders in three key battleground states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

"Across the board, President Trump is polling well against the Democratic field in each of these battleground states," the firm said in an analysis of poll results. "Notably, Vice President Biden has seen a sharp decline in support in our surveys as he currently runs behind President Trump in each of the three states."

But that wasn't all, Firehouse found.

"As the race currently stands, President Trump is in the lead in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in hypothetical match-ups against former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg," the analysis stated. "Across the three states, Trump's closest contest is against Joe Biden, although the president leads by an average of 6 percentage points against each Democrat."

Firehouse Strategies is considered a Republican firm - it was founded in 2016 by strategists closely associated with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio - but the latest independent Marquette Law School poll also shows Trump well positioned in Wisconsin, being statistically tied with all leading presidential contenders.

While he doesn't lead those contenders as he does in the Firehouse polling, it nonetheless represents improvement in Trump's head-to-head standings over Marquette's October poll, when Trump trailed Biden by six points and was slightly underwater with Warren and Sanders.

Firehouse state by state

The Firehouse polling takes an individual look at head-to-head matchups and voter feelings about impeachment in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, three states that are crucial to Trump's re-election hopes.

In Michigan, Firehouse stated, Trump was polling ahead of Biden by 5%, ahead of Sanders by six points, Warren by nine, Buttigieg by 11, and Bloomberg by 11.

"The president consistently runs behind Democratic contenders aged 18-35 but does well among other age cohorts, especially those aged 55 years or older," the poll stated. "For example, in a head-to-head contest of Trump against Bernie Sanders, Michiganders aged 18-35 support Sanders over Trump 58 percent to 34%, but those aged 55+ support the president over Sanders 53% to 37%."

According to the poll, in Pennsylvania, Trump leads Biden by 4%, Warren by 7%, Sanders by 11%, Buttigieg by 6%, and Bloomberg by 4%.

"Bloomberg - who performed nearly as well as Vice President Biden in the commonwealth - had his best performance in Pennsylvania, running only four points behind President Trump in the state," the poll stated.

Trump performed best of all in the Firehouse polling in Wisconsin, where he holds a double-digit lead against all Democratic challengers.

"The president is currently running up nine percent against Biden, 12 points against Warren, 13 points against Sanders, 11 points against Buttigieg, and 12 points against Bloomberg," the poll stated. "Among non-partisan voters, Wisconsinites favored President Trump by double digits. For example, against Senator Elizabeth Warren, Trump led by over 18% among non-partisans. Overall, we find President Trump performing well in these crucial 2020 states. While these numbers will fluctuate as the presidential election continues, Trump is well-situated to win back these contests."

The poll also found what Firehouse called a clear downward trajectory in Biden's performance.

"As the Democratic primary wages on, Biden has seen a severe drop in the polls," the poll stated. "For example, in our March survey, Biden led Trump in Wisconsin by 12 percentage points, in Pennsylvania by seven points, and in Michigan he narrowly led Trump by 0.2 points. In this month's survey, we found Trump over Biden by nine points in Wisconsin, by four points in Pennsylvania, and five points in Michigan."

Though Biden was performing well in head-to-head contests against Trump earlier in the year, Firehouse stated, the race shows that his lead has disappeared with the president ahead of the former vice president in each of the states.

Neither were voters in those battleground supporting impeachment, the consulting firm found.

"In each of these battleground states, we find that a majority of likely 2020 voters do not support the impeachment and removal of President Trump from office," the poll stated. "Impeachment and removal is opposed by 50.8% of voters in Michigan, 52.2% of voters in Pennsylvania, and 57.9% of voters in Wisconsin. Non-partisan voters in Michigan (70%) and Wisconsin (61%) oppose impeachment and removal, while non-partisan voters in Pennsylvania slightly support it (46.4% to 40.9%)."

When asked about whether congressional Democrats should be spending their time impeaching Trump or focusing on policy issues, Firehouse continued, a majority of these battleground state voters choose "focus on policy issues": Michigan, 59.4%; Pennsylvania, 63%; Wisconsin, 67.2%).

On those issues, partisans have different issue priorities, the firm added.

"In each state, a plurality of Republicans believe that immigration is the most important political issue facing the United States today, while a plurality of Democrats in Michigan and Wisconsin believe it is health care and Democrats in Pennsylvania believe it is climate change," the poll stated.

The bottom line is, Firehouse concluded, battleground state voters favor congressional Democrats turning away from impeachment issues and focusing on policy issues like immigration, health care, and climate change.

Marquette poll

In the December Marquette University Law School poll, which surveyed registered voters rather than likely voters, Trump did not do so well, but the poll nonetheless found what it called consistent, if sometimes modest, shifts in public opinion away from support of impeachment and toward supporting Trump in next year's presidential election.

"For example, Trump holds small leads over each of four top Democratic candidates for president in head-to-head matchups in the new survey, while three of the Democrats held small leads over Trump in the previous poll," the poll stated.

In the new poll, 40

5 of registered voters think Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 53% do not think so and 6% say that they do not know. In October, before public hearings began, 44% favored impeachment and removal from office, while 51% were opposed, and 4% said they didn't know, the poll found.

The survey also pitted Trump against each of four leading candidates for the Democratic nomination.

"Trump has 3-point leads over former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 5-point margin over Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and an 8-point lead over Mayor Pete Buttigieg," the poll stated. "In October, Biden, Sanders, and Warren had small leads and Buttigieg trailed by 2 percentage points."

Other polls

Two new national surveys also show a distaste for impeachment among voters.

A Monmouth poll released last week showed voters opposing impeachment and removal from office by 50-45%.

"Opinion on impeachment has been rock steady since news of the Ukraine call first broke," Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said. "Any small shifts we are seeing now are likely to be statistical noise."

In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, 51% think President Trump should not be impeached and removed from office, while 45% say he should be impeached and removed from office. That compares to a November poll in which 48% of voters said the president should not be impeached, while 45% said he should be, according to Quinnipiac.

It's the first Quinnipiac poll since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the inquiry that more than half of voters say that Trump should not be impeached.

"With Washington in turmoil and House Democrats poised to vote on impeaching the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, American voters signal they are slightly more inclined not to impeach than to impeach," Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said.

Richard Moore is the author of the forthcoming "Storyfinding: From the Journey to the Story" and can be reached at

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