Americans are on high alert as the country seeks to regain its balance after the mob attack on Capitol Hill last week, according to a series of polls released in recent days that show a nation frustrated by the president’s actions and uncertain of what will follow.
Three in four respondents to a CBS News / YouGov nationwide poll released Wednesday said it was at least fairly likely that attempted violence could occur at the inauguration ceremony for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., which will take place on the steps of the Capitol just two weeks after armed extremists stormed the building.
A Quinnipiac University poll released this week found that 70% of voters expressed concern about the safety of elected officials in the country.
Clear majorities in these and other national polls said President Trump was responsible for the riots on Capitol Hill last week, and that his approval rating fell to historically low levels in his last days in office. . But support for impeachment and his dismissal is not as widespread, although some polls show a small majority of the country backing him.
House Democrats, with the backing of some Republicans, voted to impeach the president on Wednesday, the first time in history that a president has been impeached twice.
The CBS poll found that 55% of Americans supported his impeachment, and another poll released this week by Politico and Morning Consult showed 53% of voters supported him. The Quinnipiac poll (conducted by phone, unlike the CBS and Politico online polls) found that 52% of voters supported the president’s impeachment.
Investigators of all methodologies have gotten through a difficult 2020, with polls consistently underestimating Mr. Trump’s support for the second time in two presidential elections. Pollsters have not conclusively determined the cause of the failures, so it can be difficult to be sure that support for Mr. Trump is not in fact stronger by a few points across the board.
But it’s potentially more useful to monitor trends over time, which is more like comparing apples to apples. From this perspective, the public seems to be slightly – but significantly – more receptive to the idea of impeaching the president than they were around the same time last year, when Democrats’ efforts to remove the president of his duties have divided the country almost middle.
At that point, nearly half of voters said they believed Democrats were pushing to impeach the president for political reasons and doubted the charges against Mr. Trump were worth impeaching him.
This time around, the country more broadly agrees on the dire nature of what Mr. Trump has been accused of. About six in ten Americans said in the CBS poll that they believe the president encouraged violence on Capitol Hill. A PBS NewsHour / Marist College survey conducted by telephone the day after the attack found that 63% of the nation’s people said the president was largely responsible for the chaos.
The effects on Mr. Trump’s approval numbers have been severe. In all recent polls, his job approval is between mid-30s and 30s, with about three in five Americans disapproving of his performance.
While his unwavering support of around a third of the electorate saved Mr. Trump from plunging into the 1920s, when Richard M. Nixon and George W. Bush were both near the end of their presidencies, the latest figures reflect his diminished support across the board, including among Republicans; his once nearly universal post approval for post among his own party members plunged into the 1970s.
Ed Goeas, a longtime Republican pollster, said that in recent weeks Mr Trump had scared many of the remaining mainstream Tory GOP voters who had remained in his corner.
“They’re the ones who kind of moved to ‘It’s just not true’ about what happened with the election robbery,” Goeas said. “And then they see the events of last Wednesday, and I think they’re worried.”
He added: “I think what will happen over the next eight days is very concerning. What you will see is the reality: we now have more troops in Washington than we have in Afghanistan. A little hard to miss.