Dec 4, 2019

Pew: More Republicans than Democrats support expanding presidential power

The president's podium. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

26% of Americans agree that presidents could more effectively address the country's problems if they did not have to worry about Congress or the courts, a Pew poll found. Of the 26%, a simple majority identified as Republican.

Why it matters: The share of Republicans who believe presidents could be more effective if they did not have to consider the other branches of government has increased 16 percentage points since last year, from 27% to 43%.

By the numbers: Democrats’ views on expanding executive power has not significantly changed over the past year. 82% of Democrats said it would be too risky to give presidents more power, while just 16% said presidents would be more effective without Congress and the courts.

  • Overall, 66% of those surveyed said it's too risky to give presidents more power, down from 76% in 2018. This means the public overall is more open to giving the executive more power.

Of note: Both parties' opinions about presidential power shifted after Donald Trump’s election. The share of Democrats who said it would be too risky to give presidents more power shifted from from 66% in 2016 to 82% in 2019.

  • The share of Republicans who said it would be dangerous fell from 82% in 2016 to 51% in 2019.

Methodology: This survey is based on telephone interviews conducted between July 10-15, 2019, among 1,502 adults, 18 years of age or older, and has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

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The normalization of impeachment

Data: Sources, compiled with the help of the House Historian's Office: “A Petition for Presidential Impeachment”; “The House Impeaches Andrew Johnson”; “Origins and Development of the House: Impeachment”; Hinds Precedents, Volume 3; The Age of Impeachment; Congress.gov; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

If the House votes next week to impeach President Trump, some lawmakers warn that impeaching presidents could become the new normal. Historians and constitutional experts say it won't go that far — but they do concede a drift in that direction.

Why it matters: If impeachment loses its taboo to become just another partisan instrument with implications for elections and fundraising, that would weaken its power as an emergency mechanism and further polarize Republicans and Democrats.

  • This is what's happened to government shutdowns, Supreme Court fights and filibusters.
Go deeperArrowDec 13, 2019

Poll: Public opinion is split on impeachment after hearings

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A poll conducted by SSRS for CNN shows that public opinion on President Trump's impeachment is split and remains unchanged from October.

Why it matters: Only half of the 1,007 respondents said they believe Trump should be impeached and removed from office over his handling of military aid to Ukraine and 43% said he should not, despite five days of public hearings in House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

Go deeperArrowNov 26, 2019

Read Doug Collins' opening statement in debate over articles of impeachment

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, slammed Democrats for "abusing their power" in his opening remarks at Wednesday's hearing to debate the two articles of impeachment against President Trump.

The big picture: Collins accused Democrats of "lying" about the criteria for impeachment and said, "the biggest, most dangerous lie is that the president, as an American citizen, is guilty until proven innocent."