Polling finds Pennsylvania voters break along party lines on Trump impeachment | TribLIVE.com
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Polling finds Pennsylvania voters break along party lines on Trump impeachment

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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
President Donald Trump speaks at the Shale Insight Conference in Downtown Pittsburgh on Oct. 23.

Pittsburgh retiree Francine Hunter said she worries that President Trump often oversteps the bounds of his office.

“I don’t think he sticks to what a president is supposed to do,” said Hunter, 69, a Democrat from Pittsburgh’s West End.

That’s one of the major reasons the retired hospital dietary worker came down among 57% of Pennsylvania registered voters questioned in a new poll who said they support the ongoing House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions on a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. During the call, Trump suggested Zelenskiy launch an inquiry into former Vice President Joe Biden — a top Democratic presidential candidate.

Pollsters found 42% of those questioned said they opposed or strongly opposed the impeachment inquiry.

The U.S. House, which has been conducting preliminary proceedings in the inquiry behind closed doors for several weeks, is scheduled to take a formal vote to approve the investigation Thursday.

The statewide survey released Thursday marked the first time the Franklin & Marshall College Poll has queried voters about impeachment. The survey of 482 registered voters was conducted Oct. 21-27. It has a margin of error of 6.1 percentage points, plus or minus.

Political scientist and poll director G. Terry Madonna said the Pennsylvania numbers that broke largely along party lines reflect national polls that have asked that question and charted similar results.

“The question of the inquiry is literally bifurcated by party and the strong polarization that exists on this issue; I don’t think there is any doubt about that,” Madonna said. “It’s only 21% of Republicans and 18% conservatives, but 85% of Democrats. One of the reasons the (total) number is so high is 61% of independents and moderates support (the impeachment inquiry).”

Nonetheless, some Pennsylvania Democrats who participated in the poll expressed serious reservations about the impeachment inquiry.

What they said

Jason Warrenfeltz, 41, of Chambersburg is a Trump Democrat who remains steadfastly supportive of the president. The director of plant operations for Wilson College said he opposes the impeachment inquiry.

“To the general public, I don’t believe there’s enough background or enough true factual information that’s being shared for me as a registered citizen to feel comfortable with it,” he said.

“I live in a world that there’s always two sides to the story and, not to talk bad about your profession, but I think journalism doesn’t do justice to factual information because it’s very easily changed from one word to another to change the view,” he said, adding he will support Trump’s reelection campaign.

Daniel Yaklich, 71, of Delmont also is a Democrat who counts himself among Trump’s supporters.

“I’m a Democrat, but I’m a very conservative Democrat,” the retired safety inspector said.

He said he voted for Trump “because he wasn’t Hillary Clinton.”

“I think since the president won, he has had a battle with the Democrats. If they have the evidence, they’ll get him in impeachment, but I don’t think the Senate will convict him,” Yaklich said.

Asked if the president has done a good enough job to be reelected, 59% of those polled said it is time for a change, while 37% said he deserves to win another term.

Among those who said it is time for a change, 85% said they plan to vote against Trump regardless of who runs against him. Among those who said he deserves to be reelected, 74% said they will vote for Trump regardless of who runs against him.

Jerry Winchester, 73, of Reading, a retiree who identifies as Republican, is among Trump’s loyal supporters.

“I think one of the nice things about him is he’s not a politician. I think that’s one of the biggest problems the elected politicians have against him,” Winchester said.

“I don’t support (impeachment). Basically, I feel like they’ve tried to impeach presidents before and it ended up just being a waste of money and time, and we got fundamentally no results. I have a feeling they’re trying to do the same thing to him, and I have a feeling the goal of the impeachment is not really for impeachment but to put a black mark against President Trump so he doesn’t get re-elected,” Winchester said.

He and Jean Yetter, a 72-year-old East Stroudsburg Democrat, represent what Madonna sees as a Pennsylvania electorate largely divided along party lines where the president is concerned. He said those lines have moved little, even as the impeachment inquiry has unfolded.

Yetter, a small businesswoman who owns a store and a mobile home park in northeastern Pennsylvania, said she supports the impeachment inquiry and has serious questions about the president’s truthfulness.

It was not right, Yetter said, to ask “another country to spy on the Bidens as possible opponents in the upcoming election.”

Pa. delegation weighs in

Pennsylvania’s 18-member House delegation, which is split 9-9 Democrats and Republicans, is expected to vote largely along party lines Thursday when the Democratic-controlled House calls a vote on the impeachment inquiry. Madonna noted that all nine Pennsylvania Democrats have come out in support of the inquiry, though several have yet to say they support impeachment.

U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, a Republican whose district includes part of Westmoreland County, said he will vote no on the inquiry.

“For over a month, House Democrats conducted a sham impeachment behind closed doors. This long overdue floor vote on an impeachment inquiry resolution doesn’t reverse weeks of secret hearings and leaking cherry-picked items to the media,” Reschenthaler’s office responded to questions from the Tribune-Review. “Despite the American people’s repeated demands for transparency, this resolution merely continues the Democrats’ closed-door, Soviet-style impeachment process led by Chairman Adam Schiff who has repeatedly lied to the public.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, the senior member of the Pennsylvania delegation, told the Tribune-Review he considers supporting the ongoing inquiry as part of his constitutional duties.

“The impeachment inquiry so far has uncovered substantial evidence that the president abused the power of his office, undermined our democracy and endangered our national security. I will vote in favor of the resolution establishing ground rules for the next stages of the impeachment inquiry,” he said.

Staff writer Joe Napsha contributed to this report. Deb Erdley and Megan Tomasic are Tribune-Review staff writers. They can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]

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