Biden impeachment and Trump's eligibility: Views divide, with profound partisan gaps
Both men blame their political opponents for their situations.
Americans are divided on a congressional impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden and it's a fairly close call on whether former President Donald Trump should be eligible for a second term – two results in an ABC News/Washington Post poll that demonstrate the country's profound political polarization.
At the same time, while their situations are very different, more than half see accountability, rather than political victimization, in both Biden's situation and Trump's facing criminal charges.
Overall, 44% say that based on what they know, Congress should begin impeachment proceedings that could lead to Biden being removed from office. Forty-seven percent say it should not. In partisan terms, 74% of Republicans favor impeachment proceedings; 83% of Democrats oppose them. Independents split down the middle, 46-45%.
Another 44% of adults in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, say Trump should be prohibited from serving as president under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits people from holding public office if they have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States. Slightly more, 50%, say this should not bar Trump from office.
On this question, the partisan tables turn: Seventy-three percent of Democrats say Trump should be barred from office, while 81% of Republicans say he should not. Independents side against prohibition by 52-43%, a slight difference given the sample size.
Intraparty criticisms also are apparent. Among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who favor someone other than Trump for the 2024 nomination, 29% say he should be prohibited from office. And among Democrats and Democratic leaners who prefer someone other than Biden as the nominee, 21% support Congress beginning impeachment proceedings. A first hearing is scheduled for next Thursday.
Among other groups, women and college graduates are more apt than their counterparts to think Trump should be prohibited from serving another term. That's reversed on whether Congress should begin impeachment proceedings for Biden, each a reflection of partisan and ideological differences among these groups.
Both men blame their political opponents for their situations, but most Americans see it differently.
By 53-40%, more say Trump's indictments on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election and illegally retaining classified documents mean he is being held accountable under the law like anyone else, as opposed to being unfairly victimized by his political opponents.
The gap widens on Biden. Told that the Republican speaker of the House has initiated an inquiry into whether Biden should be impeached because of alleged involvement in his son's international business dealings, Americans by 58-32% say the inquiry reflects Biden being held accountable under the law like any president, rather than being unfairly victimized politically.
Similar vast partisan gaps are present. Eighty-six percent of Democrats say Trump is being held accountable like anyone else; just 19% of Republicans agree. More independents think he's being held accountable than being victimized, 55-39%.
As to Biden, 85% of Republicans think he's being held accountable, while 23% of Democrats say the same. Most independents see accountability, even more so than for Trump, 63-29%. In notable results by ideology, 37% of liberals and 51% of moderates say Biden is being held accountable, not victimized.
Views on impeachment proceedings against Trump, the same question asked in this poll about Biden, started with a split, 49-46%, in August 2018, then moved to opposition, with a peak of 59 percent in July 2019 saying Congress should not begin such hearings. A month later, a whistleblower complaint accused Trump of abuse of power; twice in subsequent ABC/Post polls, Americans divided on impeaching Trump and removing him from office, 49-47% in October 2019 and 49-46% that December.
In a previous case, majorities from 57 to 71% in 1998 opposed impeaching Bill Clinton and removing him from office.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 15-20, 2023, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,006 adults. Partisan divisions are 25-25-42%, Democrats-Republicans-independents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points, including the design effect. Sampling error is not the only source of differences in polls.