By a more than 10-point margin, registered voters approve of Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s decision to break with his party and vote to convict President Donald Trump on one of the articles of impeachment against him, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted after last week’s vote.
The Utah senator’s vote marked the first time in U.S. history that a senator voted to convict a president from his own party in an impeachment trial.
Half of the voters surveyed said they approved of Romney’s vote to find Trump guilty of abuse of power, while 39% said they disapproved and 10% said they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion.
As with most polling on Trump’s impeachment, the results largely fell along party lines. Eighty-four percent of Democrats approved of Romney’s vote and 11% disapproved, while 15% of Republicans approved and 76% disapproved. Independents backed Romney’s vote 47%-33% (19% weren’t sure).
Trump was impeached by the Democratically controlled House on Dec. 18. He was charged with obstruction of Congress and abuse of power stemming from allegations he used military aid to Ukraine as leverage for his own political benefit. The GOP-controlled Senate acquitted him of both charges on Feb. 5.
In his Senate speech explaining his vote to convict, Romney, who is Mormon, said his religious beliefs were a major factor in his decision.
“As a senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise ‘impartial justice.’ I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential,” Romney said.
Romney impeachment vote: Read the full text of his speech on the Senate floor
Voters who identified themselves as Christian (including Mormon) disapproved of his vote 49%-43%, while non-Christians approved 75%-18%.
Overall, voters were evenly split 47%-47% on whether they approved of the Senate vote to acquit Trump.
Voters did not seem to think anyone dealt with the impeachment process particularly well. When asked whether they approved of how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., handled it, 53% said no and 35% said yes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck McConnell fared better: Voters disapproved of his handling of the affair 43%-39%. And 40% approved of how Trump responded to the situation, while 51% disapproved.
Few voters thought the impeachment would impact the chances of Trump being elected to four more years in office.
Just 12% said the impeachment will end up hurting Trump’s chances at reelection; 45% said it would help. Another 27% said it would have no impact and 17% weren’t sure.
In his speech, Romney predicted “there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters.”
And Trump has indeed condemned and mocked Romney since the vote, tweeting that the people of Utah now see the 2012 Republican presidential nominee only with “contempt” and “disgust.”
But a Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll released Tuesday found that 49% of Utah voters had a positive response to Romney’s vote (21% proud, 13% pleased and 14% encouraged). Forty percent had negative reactions (22% disappointed, 11% embarrassed and 8% angry).
“I think that the events that are considered earth-shattering or momentous in Washington, D.C., don’t necessarily carry the same weight when you get out to voters across the country,” pollster Scott Rasmussen, whose firm conducted the survey, told the Deseret News.
The impact was less positive among Utah’s Republican voters, however. Fifty-six percent of them said Romney’s decision made them less likely to vote for him when he is up for reelection in 2024, compared with 23% who said it made them more likely to support him and 18% who said it would have no impact on their vote.
Immediately after the vote, the state Republican Party issued a statement expressing pleasure that Trump was acquitted and saying “we strongly disagree” with Romney’s vote against him.
Impeachment vote fallout: GOP Sen. Romney faces awkwardness, ‘abuse’ for defying Trump
And the Utah GOP is considering a measure to censure Romney for the vote. The resolution also calls on Romney to “vigorously support President Trump and his conservative America First agenda or vacate his seat.”
But Rasmussen did not think the polling numbers reflected a level of unrest among Republicans high enough to spell political doom for Romney.
“Obviously, there’s a partisan take,” Rasmussen said. “But even the Republican reaction was a bit muted.”
Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, said Romney will likely need to address the angry members of his party if he plans to seek reelection.
“He’s going to have to win that group over and explain to their satisfaction,” Perry told The Deseret News. But, he added, the “entire political chessboard is going to change by 2024.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mitt Romney impeachment vote approved by voters 50%-39%, poll finds