About half of Americans now want Congress to impeach President Donald Trump and remove him from office, up slightly from a month ago, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows.
In the survey, 49% back Trump's impeachment and removal while 46% oppose it. In the NBC/WSJ poll a month ago, a 49% plurality opposed impeachment and removal while 43% favored it.
Paradoxically, that increase represents a sharpening rather than blurring of partisan lines as the House impeachment inquiry accelerates. Support for Trump's impeachment and removal actually dropped to 6% from 11% among Republicans – a decline more than offset by rising support for impeachment among Democrats and, to a lesser degree, independents.
"It's a very locked-down electorate," said Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster who helps conduct the NBC/WSJ survey.
While support for impeachment rose, Trump's job approval level ticked up by two percentage points to 45%. Hart's GOP counterpart Bill McInturff called that a sign that, so far at least, the investigation of Trump's dealings with Ukraine has not shifted overall assessments of the president.
"We're not seeing a change at all in Trump's standing," McInturff said. The telephone poll of 900 American adults, conducted from Oct. 27-30, carries a margin for error of 3.27 percentage points.
Nor has the success of U.S. special forces in the death of ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a major dent in public opinion. While 40% of Americans said it made the U.S. more safe, the rest did not.
The poll showed that Baghdadi's death did not seize public attention as much as other top news events of recent years. And it was offset by Trump's announcement that he would withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, which 41% called the "wrong decision" and 35% said would make the U.S. less safe.
In the Democratic race for the opportunity to challenge Trump next November, the NBC/WSJ poll also showed only modest change. Former Vice President Joe Biden leading Sen. Elizabeth Warren by 27% to 23%, with Sen. Bernie Sanders in third place with 19%.
Those numbers reflected slight declines in support for Biden and Warren, while Sanders moved up after returning to the campaign trail following his recent heart attack and catheterization procedure. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg trailed Sanders with 6%, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar made her first appearance in the top five Democrats with 5%.
Warren continues to demonstrate the broadest level of acceptability within her party; 45% of Democrats call her their first or second choice, while 41% say the same of Biden.
Yet Warren's backing is also softer. Fewer of her supporters (32%) than those of Biden (50%) or Sanders (57%) say they'll definitely vote for her.
The survey contains promising news for Democrats about their prospects in the Nov. 2020 general election. Americans now say they prefer Democratic control of Congress over Republican control by 49% to 42%, and favor the two leading Democratic presidential candidates over Trump by comparable margins.
In a hypothetical general election matchup, Biden leads Trump by 50% to 41%, matching the margin he held in July. And Warren now holds a nearly identical 50%-42% edge, up slightly from her 48%-43% lead over the Republican incumbent this summer.
In addition, Trump faces entrenched opposition significantly larger than his hard-core base. A 46% plurality of Americans said they were almost certain to vote against the president next November, compared to 34% almost certain to vote for him.