A majority of 53 percent of Virginians believe there is enough evidence to begin impeachment hearings or that Congress can continue investigating the issue. (Getty Images)

A majority of Virginians believe Congress should begin impeachment hearings or continue investigation of President Donald Trump

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Angelica Bega
Executive assistant to L. Douglas Wilder
(804) 828-8520 or aebega@vcu.edu

Farrah Stone, Ph.D.
Poll Director
(804) 305-3447

A majority of Virginians (53%) believe that there is enough evidence to begin impeachment hearings (29%) or that Congress should continue investigating the issue (24%), according to a new Wilder School Commonwealth Poll released on Tuesday. Forty-five percent say that Congress should not hold impeachment hearings. These findings fall in line with other recent national polling that indicates the public shifting toward support for impeachment since the release of phone transcripts between the president and Ukrainian officials. This poll is the first in Virginia to be fielded since the opening of an impeachment inquiry in the House in response to the recent developments regarding the Ukraine.

The issue clearly shows a partisan divide. More than 8-in-10 Democrats (85%) think Congress should act, with 54% saying that impeachment hearings should start now and 31% saying that investigations should continue. Conversely, more than 8-in-10 Republicans (83%) believe there should be no hearings and only 14% favored congressional action. Respondents identifying as independents were more likely to support the move toward impeachment with 58% saying Congress should either begin the hearings (28%) or continue investigating (30%). Those with a college degree or more, females, minorities and those under 45 years old were more likely to support impeachment or continuing the investigation. Regionally, Tidewater (36%) and Northern Virginia (33%) were more likely to support starting impeachment hearings, the South Central area was slightly more likely to support continuing the investigation (30%) and majorities in the West (60%) and Northwest (57%) opposed the idea of impeachment hearings (see attached tables).

“It is clear that the people want to know what is happening in our government,” said former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder. “If there has been wrongdoing, they want to know and by whom. The poll responses indicate a deep divide between the political parties. Getting the facts underlying the call for impeachment hearings or impeachment itself is the most important issue to have come from this poll.”

More Virginians plan to vote for the Democratic candidate over Trump

Democratic candidates still have a greater level of support over Trump for the 2020 election. Respondents who are registered to vote were asked about their choice against specific Democratic hopefuls. Joe Biden enjoyed the greatest level of support, beating Trump by 8 points (52% to 44%), followed by Elizabeth Warren with a 4-point lead (50% to 46%). Bernie Sanders had only a 1-point lead, with 48% compared to 47% for Trump. Likewise, when respondents were asked generically which party they would prefer to have control of the White House after the next election, the Democrats only had a 2-point lead, with 49% saying Democratic control and 47% saying Republican control.  

“The almost even results as to which party should have control of the White House after the next election was almost a dead-heat tie – Democrats, 49%, Republicans, 47%; well within the margin of error,” Wilder said. “There is a great deal of uncertainty that continues, and the candidates must make their case; their respective political parties can’t do it for them.”

Biden over-performed against the generic Republican ballot and Warren and Sanders performed closer to the generic ballot. A main driver of the difference in support between Biden and Warren and Sanders and party control of the White House is the opinion of independent voters. Independents chose Biden and Warren by a much larger spread, 17 points for Biden and 14 for Warren. However, that margin closed considerably when respondents were asked about Sanders or party control (without naming Trump) with only 7 percentage points in the Democrats’ favor. 

“Vote preference at this stage does not seem to be based on particular issues,” Wilder said, “but more on favorability, personality, (e.g. who might be best to beat Trump), and age and health.”

For methodology and data charts, visit https://oppo.vcu.edu/media/oppo/CommonwealthPoll_Fall2019_Release1.pdf.