President Donald Trump

 

Democrats in Congress are accelerating toward opening possible impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Utahns are nearly evenly divided on the issue according to the newest Utah Political Trends survey from UtahPolicy.com and Y2 Analytics.

House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (R-N.Y.) said last week his committee has essentially opened formal impeachment proceedings as they investigate alleged wrongdoing by President Donald Trump and his administration. The process, which does not require a full vote in the House, could result in an impeachment vote later this year.

48% of Utahns say Congress should not hold impeachment hearings against President Trump, letting him finish his first year according to our new survey. 29% say there is enough evidence right now for Congress to begin impeachment hearings, and another 19% believe Congress should continue investigating to see if they might uncover evidence to start impeachment in the future. That results in an equal split between Utahns who are opposed to impeachment and those who favor impeachment or want the investigation to continue.

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The key is the 19% who want the investigations to continue. If those investigations don't uncover evidence that warrants impeachment, then they will more than likely shift into the "no" column. But they want to see what Congress discovers before choosing a path.

That uncertainty exists across most of Utah’s four congressional districts, with the lone exception being the 3rd district, where a slim majority of voters oppose impeachment.

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The poll illustrates the sticky situation Ben McAdams, Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress, finds himself in. In UT04, 47% of voters are opposed to impeachment, but 32% say there’s ample evidence to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump, while 17% want more investigation to determine if there’s enough evidence to start impeachment. 

UtahPolicy.com pollster Kelly Patterson of Y2 Analytics says the issue of impeachment puts McAdams in a tough position with voters in his district, which is overwhelmingly Republican.

“Given the composition of the district, McAdams needs to attract some Republicans to win. How he moves forward depends on how tenaciously those Republicans he needs support the president. If they remain even partially loyal to the President, that creates a difficult situation, especially if the Democrats eventually hold a vote on impeachment,” he said.

In Utah’s 2nd District, voters are also evenly split on impeachment, but Republican Chris Stewart is betting the Republicans there will appreciate his steadfast support of President Trump. 

“Representative Stewart can mobilize a significant portion of this base by being a vocal defender of President Trump,” says Patterson. But, there is a danger for Stewart as well.

“As the last cycle showed, there are individuals who do not appreciate that position and could easily be mobilized if the right candidate came along to challenge him,” he said.

It will come as no surprise that there exists a sharp partisan divide in Republican-dominated Utah over impeachment, with Republicans opposing and Democrats in favor of impeachment or at least wanting to continue the investigations. 

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“The overall message seems to be that the President is a polarizing figure,” says Patterson. “Part of the reason why people do not want impeachment is due to their attachment to the President and the party, which are strong ties. A large proportion of people seem to have concluded that the scandals surrounding this president warrant some sort of political action. Thus, you have the tension that has become part of the nation’s political life.”

The survey was conducted from July 31 to August 6, 2019, among 1,017 registered Utah voters, with a margin of error +/- 3.1%. You can read more about the methodology used in the poll here, and our online survey panel here.