GUEST COLUMN, Dick Morris
An April 22 survey of a national sample of 1,000 likely voters conducted by McLaughlin & Associates and me, a former Clinton pollster, shows surprising support for President Trump and suspicion of the investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
- Voters do not believe Mueller has found “real evidence of corruption by the president” by a margin of 33 percent (yes) to 51 percent (no).
- By a 10 point margin, voters believe Mueller has not uncovered any evidence that “President Trump colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.” Thirty-three percent said he had uncovered such evidence and 43 percent said he had not.
- But, by a margin of 43 percent to 35 percent, voters said Mueller’s investigation has “overstepped its designated purpose to investigate links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Trump by investigating individuals who had nothing to do with Russia.”
- And, America’s patience with Mueller’s probe is running out. Asked if they think “the investigation being conducted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller has gone on for too long and cost too much,” voters agreed by 52 percent to 32 percent.
But, when voters were asked if special prosecutor Mueller “is fairly investigating the president and just following the facts or if he is doing all he can to make a case against the president to try to remove him from office,” voters broke even with 40.4 percent saying he is just following the facts and 39.7 percent saying he is doing all he can to remove Trump from office.
Support for the president is widespread. By 50 percent to 40 percent, voters said Trump’s critics “need to stop hounding the president and let him do his job.”
But they do not want the president to fire Mueller, opposing doing so by 29 percent in favor and 52 percent opposed.
If the president did fire Mueller, voters believe by 56 percent to 36 percent that it would indicate “the president has something to hide.”
Voters are narrowly divided on whether Mueller should have searched the office of Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen. Asked if Mueller should not have searched Cohen’s office since the president “deserves the protection of attorney-client privilege,” 46 percent supported the search while 40 percent opposed it.
While the survey shows support for Trump, many voters view impeachment in partisan political terms with mainly Democrats wanting him impeached and removed from office. Forty-one percent of all voters supported the step while 45 percent opposed it.
Overall, the survey showed that 46.4 percent approve of Trump’s job performance while 51.7 percent disapprove.
(The fact that 52 percent of voters disapprove of Trump’s performance and 42 percent want him impeached, shows the extreme polarization of opinion in this country. Only about 10 percent of the voters disapprove of Trump’s job but are not willing to go so far as to say he should be removed!)
Asked which generic candidate they would support for Congress, voters split down the middle with 43.5 percent backing the Republican and 43.8 supporting the Democrat. (Because of the nature of the actual congressional districts, the Democrats generally are thought to need at least a 5 point margin to retake control because so many Democratic districts are nearly 100 percent Democrat while most Republican seats have a more closely divided partisan breakout. However Republicans cannot be complacent because the 13 percent who are undecided for Congress strongly disapprove of the job the Republican majority is doing in Congress and will break against them.)
In conclusion, the survey shows a pretty constant ten point margin for the president over Mueller. So, in effect, all Democrats support Mueller and all Republicans oppose him but, among independents, half oppose Mueller and half are undecided, giving Trump the edge.
But Trump can’t take it too far. Any attempt to remove Mueller would trigger a likely fatal backlash.
“So far all special counsel Mueller has done is added to the partisan polarization of a sharply divided country,” McLaughlin explained. “Most voters see the Mueller investigation through political lenses. Ironically if the president can increase his positive job approval rating beyond his base to rise among independents and moderates, just like President Clinton did, public opinion will turn against Mueller. So far the Mueller investigation appears to be simply a partisan tool that will go to any length to stop President Trump from succeeding.”