odern polling usually tells us how public opinion hasn’t moved. Despite last week’s hailstorm of bad news, President Donald Trump’s job approval rating stood virtually unchanged.
So did the president’s backing from Republican elected officials in Washington. Except for Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and a few others, GOP members of the House and Senate have either defended the president’s actions concerning Ukraine and former Vice President Joe Biden or remained silent.
Yet surveys in recent days show public sentiment evolving more than Trump’s steady topline would suggest. They also illuminate the potential for erosion among fellow Republicans, which could ultimately threaten the president’s ability to survive a Senate trial on articles of impeachment approved by the House.
“If you’re the president you have to take that seriously,” says former Republican strategist Tom Davis, who once ran his party’s House campaign arm. “What moves this ultimately is public opinion. These members like their jobs.”
Last week’s Monmouth University poll showed signs of movement within a broader portrait of stability. Buoyed by backing from 86% of Republicans, Trump’s approval rating remained unchanged: 41% of Americans approved of his job performance, 53% disapproved. At the same time, the share of Republicans backing a House impeachment inquiry doubled to 16% from 8% in August.
A CBS News poll found 23% of Republicans backing an impeachment probe. In a USA Today survey, 30% of Republicans called it “an abuse of power” for Trump to ask Ukraine to investigate Biden.
Even if they haven’t broken with their party’s president, those Republicans pose a particular danger to Trump, who once bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York without losing support.