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47% of the Country Say Trump Has Violated the Constitution, but Few Support Impeachment

Nearly Six in Ten Continue to Oppose Temporary Travel Ban for Muslims

WASHINGTON—As President Trump’s tumultuous first month comes to an end, a new PRRI survey finds nearly half (47 percent) of the public believe the president has acted in ways that violate the U.S. Constitution, while roughly as many (46 percent) say that he has not. The survey also finds a majority (59 percent) of Americans oppose temporarily banning Muslims from other countries from entering the U.S., compared to 35 percent who support this policy.

These are the key findings from a new national survey conducted by PRRI, a nonpartisan research organization, among 2,031 adults between February 10, 2017, and February 19, 2017.

While nearly half of the country thinks President Trump has acted unconstitutionally, he continues to receive strong support from two groups that backed him strongly during his campaign: white Americans without a college degree and white evangelical Protestants. Sixty-three percent of white Americans without a college degree, compared to 46 percent of whites with a college degree, believe he has not violated the Constitution. And nearly eight in ten (79 percent) white evangelical Protestants say Trump’s actions do not run afoul of the Constitution.

Attitudes on the constitutionality of Trump’s actions are also starkly divided by gender: A majority (55 percent) of women believe Trump has acted in ways that violate the U.S. Constitution, compared to only 39 percent of men. Young adults (age 18-29) are more likely than seniors (age 65 and older) to believe Trump has violated the Constitution (58 percent vs. 43 percent).

Despite concerns about unconstitutional actions, relatively few Americans believe Trump should be subject to impeachment proceedings. Three in ten (30 percent) say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while nearly two-thirds (65 percent) disagree.

“Many Americans have real concerns about some of the actions taken by this administration,” says PRRI Research Director Daniel Cox. “But at this early date, there is only tepid public support for impeachment. The public appears to be in wait-and-see mode and willing to give Trump some breathing room.”

Notably, similar numbers supported the impeachment of Barack Obama (29 percent) and George W. Bush (30 percent) during their time in office. In fact, there are roughly as many Democrats who support the impeachment of Trump as there were Republicans who wanted to see Obama impeached (58 percent vs. 56 percent) during his presidency.

Compared with his immediate predecessors’ early favorability numbers, Trump is uniquely unpopular. Half (50 percent) of the public have an unfavorable view of Trump, while 43 percent report having a favorable impression of him. Both President Bush and Obama enjoyed favorability ratings of 67 percent and 69 percent, respectively, during their early months in office.

“Overall levels of opposition to a temporary Muslim travel ban have remained stable over the last year, notes Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI. “But we are seeing significant movements, in opposite directions, especially among Democrats and white evangelical Protestants.” Democratic opposition to the Muslim travel ban has hardened since last spring, with 87 percent now in opposition, a 13 percentage-point increase from 74 percent opposition in 2016. This includes a more than 20 percentage-point jump in Democrats who strongly oppose the ban—from 36 percent to 59 percent.

White evangelical Protestants are the only religious group in which a majority support a temporary Muslim travel ban, and their support has increased from 55 percent to 61 percent since May 2016. Conversely, support for a Muslim ban has dropped below a majority among white Catholics (52 percent to 44 percent) and white mainline Protestants (51 percent to 39 percent).

The topline questionnaire, full methodology, and additional findings and analysis are available here: https://www.prri.org/research/poll-trump-impeachment-constitution-partisanship-muslim-ban/.

The survey was designed and conducted by PRRI. The survey was made possible by generous grants from the Gill Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the Arcus Foundation. Results of the survey were based on bilingual (Spanish and English) RDD telephone interviews conducted between February 10, 2017, and February 19, 2017, by professional interviewers under the direction of SSRS. Interviews were conducted among a random sample of 2,031 adults 18 years of age or older living in the United States (1,211 respondents were interviewed on a cell phone). The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.6 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. The design effect for the survey is 1.4.

PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization specializing in research at the intersection of religion, values, and public life.