- A wide-ranging poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in August and September helps show the extent of President Donald Trump’s support among Republicans before House Democrats opened their formal impeachment inquiry.
- The poll found his support to be particularly strong among GOP Fox News viewers: 55% of Republicans who identified Fox News as their primary news source said there was nothing Trump could do to lose their approval, compared with 29% of other Republicans.
- As noted by The Washington Post, Fox News’ coverage of Trump has been broadly friendly, particularly on issues surrounding impeachment, and the Trump administration’s ties to the outlet run deep.
- At the same time, nearly all Republicans in the poll (94%), Fox News viewer or not, said Trump should not be impeached and removed from office.
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A wide-ranging new poll conducted just before the Trump administration’s Ukraine scandal and the resulting formal impeachment inquiry gives a glimpse at just how strong a base of support President Donald Trump has to work with among Republicans and Fox News viewers in particular.
The 2019 American Values Survey was conducted August 22 to September 15 by the Public Religion Research Institute and covered an array of political and cultural topics. As with other polling, the survey, which ended just as news of the whistleblower complaint that sparked the Ukraine scandal was emerging, found Trump with a firm grasp on the Republican Party.
His support was particularly strong among Fox News viewers. Fifty-five percent of GOP respondents who cited Fox News as their primary source of news said there was nothing Trump could do to lose their approval. That was far greater than the 29% of other Republicans who said the same.
Another variable that showed divergence was education. Forty-five percent of Republicans without a college degree said there was virtually nothing Trump could do to lose their support, compared with 35% of college-educated Republicans.
Overall, 62% of Americans surveyed said Trump’s personal conduct and behavior made them less likely to support him, compared with 30% of voters who said his conduct made no difference to them. Eight percent said his conduct made them more likely to support him.
Nearly all Republican Fox News viewers opposed a Trump impeachment
- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
The PRRI poll also highlighted that 98% of Republicans who said Fox News was their primary source of news thought Trump should not be impeached and removed from office. That finding was similar, however, to Republicans overall, of whom 94% opposed Trump’s impeachment and removal.
In contrast, the poll found that 78% of Democrats thought Trump should be impeached and removed from office.
Though impeachment was only a small part of the PPRI survey, the subject has since dominated the national conversation in the US since the unveiling of a whistleblower complaint that centered on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The intelligence official who lodged the complaint detailed concerns that Trump had pressured Ukraine to aid Trump politically by investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter on allegations of corruption. The complaint was declassified last month, and the White House released a memo summarizing the call that corroborated the complaint.
A second whistleblower has since come forward with firsthand knowledge of some of the allegations outlined in the original whistleblower complaint.
Fox News connection to the Trump administration
As noted by The Washington Post, Fox News’ coverage of Trump has been broadly friendly, particularly on issues surrounding impeachment.
After the White House released its transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky and declassified the whistleblower complaint, Fox News was more likely than other cable news outlets to refer to the information provided as “secondhand,” according to The Post. Fox News also airs several hours of news a night that is “consistently friendly” to Trump, it added.
Fox News’ often positive coverage of Trump may stem from the outlet’s connection to the Trump administration. The left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters said that as of August, 18 current and former Trump staffers had previously been Fox News employees.
More than 200 House Democrats and one independent are on record supporting an impeachment inquiry into Trump. Republicans on Capitol Hill have rallied around Trump amid the impeachment investigation, though Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s staunchest allies in Washington, said on Sunday that he might change his mind on impeachment if new evidence of wrongdoing presented itself.
The PRRI poll’s results could help show why lawmakers might be reluctant to break with Trump.
On Monday, the president demanded that Republicans “get tougher and fight” on his behalf.
“The Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party for the election, which is coming up, where we’re doing very well,” Trump said at a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
The PRRI poll was compiled using data from a series of interviews of a random sample of 2,527 adults living in all 50 US states and Washington, DC. Interviews were done both online and over the phone. The margin of error for the survey was plus or minus 2.8 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.