Public Approval, Policy Issues, and Partisanship in the American Presidency: Examining the 2019–2020 Trump Impeachment and Acquittal

Public Approval, Policy Issues, and Partisanship in the American Presidency: Examining the 2019–2020 Trump Impeachment and Acquittal

By Meena Bose and Craig M. Burnett, Hofstra University

Although much of the United States undoubtedly was aware of the impeachment hearings and trial for President Donald Trump in 2019–2020, the extent to which information about those events influenced the public remains unknown. Building on scholarship about public opinion and democratic governance, we attempted to fill this knowledge gap through a unique survey. We asked half of our sample to answer three factual questions pertaining to Trump’s first impeachment trial. We ran a quasi-experiment on the other half, trying to influence their view of the trial by informing them of the same three facts that we asked the first group. The quasi-experiment demonstrates that support for acquittal was largely static and that partisanship strongly influences whether the public accepts the veracity and importance of political information. Consequently, civic knowledge today appears to have a limited—perhaps even nonexistent—effect on public attitudes about American politics.

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