Katharine DeRosa, Contributing Writer
Virginia has a significant partisan divide in regards to President Donald Trump’s impeachment, according to a poll from VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.
Democrats officially began an impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of using his position as president for his own political gain by incentivizing Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, former vice president and Trump’s political opponent.
The poll found that 53% of Virginians either believed that there is enough evidence against Trump to begin impeachment hearings, or that investigations into Trump should continue.
There was a large party divide between these statistics, with 85% of Democrats saying that Congress should act with either further investigations or impeachment trials, and 83% of Republicans saying Congress should do neither.
The Wilder School’s poll included 801 Virginians, 18 or older, who were called using random digit samples on either landlines or cell phones.
If participants did not pick up on the first call, they were called seven times on landlines and five times on cell phones before moving on to other phone numbers. Calls were made at different times of the day and on different days of the week, in order to ensure input from a range of people.
Two VCU students said they agreed that Congress should continue with impeachment proceedings.
“I 1000% believe he should be impeached,” said Med Salkic, a senior finance major. “I just think he’s been an idiot throughout the short presidency.”
Andrew Sylvain, a senior majoring in business, said that he wasn’t completely aware of all the facts.
“I think he definitely has something coming,” Sylvian said, “I don’t know if that’s impeachable.”
The poll also found that those who identified as independent voters fell in between, with 58% believing that Congress should take some sort of action against Trump.
Sylvian and Salkic said they would have trouble voting in the 2020 presidential election based on party alone.
“It depends,” Sylvian said, “The only person I’d vote for would be Elizabeth Warren. If it wasn’t her, I wouldn’t vote.”
“I’m a Democrat at heart, but I also have conservative views,” Salkic said, “I feel like it would be very situational. I want to swing both routes.”
Political science professor Chris Saladino said that independent voters are usually evenly split on the impeachment issue and that the Wilder School’s poll showed the highest difference he had seen.
“I think that there’s always been a question about those who call themselves independent versus people who vote independent,” Saladino said. “There are people who call themselves independent who are either reliable Democratic or Republican voters because they don’t want to be pinned down for the purposes of primaries.”
The poll also asked Virginians about the upcoming presidential election and different Democratic candidates against Trump. Joe Biden had the highest advantage at 52%, with an 8-point difference between those who would vote for Trump at 44%.
When a subject was asked whether they would vote Democrat or Republican, the Democratic advantage decreased by two points.
Saladino said he wasn’t surprised by Biden’s popularity.
“I think that it’s a circular argument. That is, people think he can beat Trump because people think he can beat Trump,” Saladino said, “Their faith in him may not be that they love Joe Biden, their faith in him is somehow that they believe from day one — especially from early polling numbers — this is the guy who can beat Trump.”
The Wilder School includes undergraduate and graduate students interested in government and public policy. The school contains eight programs and enrolls about 1,000 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students. The survey was conducted by the Director of Public Policy Poll, Farrah Stone.
Pelosi’s accusations that Trump was withholding established military funds from Ukraine in an attempt to motivate the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son came to a head with former Ukrainian Ambassador William Taylor’s opening statement in closed-door congressional hearings.
In his statement, Taylor said he could not support withholding military funds to protect Ukraine from Russian threats, but said that Trump threatened to do exactly that unless Zelensky publicly stated Ukraine would begin investigating the Biden family.