07/25/2014 02:56 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

If Fox Was Trying To Get Voters To Say They Favor Impeaching Obama, It Didn't Work

JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images

In the wake of a lawsuit in the works against President Barack Obama, some Republicans like Sarah Palin have been calling for the House of Representatives to go a step further and impeach the president. Two new polls out this week, from CNN and Fox News, both asked the public to weigh in. The way each pollster approached the question, however, was a little different.

CNN asked a pretty simple yes/no question, following the same format they used for polls about Bill Clinton and George W. Bush:

Fox, after characterizing Obama as "bypassing Congress and acting on his own" in a previous question, asked this, which seems to take as a given Republican claims that Obama flouted the Constitution:

Despite Fox's one-sided framing of the question, the results of the two polls were strikingly similar. In this case, people turned out to be against impeaching Obama regardless of how the question was phrased. Just 33 percent of Americans in the CNN survey, and 36 percent of voters in the Fox one, supported impeachment -- about the same percentage who favored impeaching the last two presidents.

But wording does matter, especially since not everyone understands exactly what impeachment means. Nearly a fifth of Americans told CNN that "Congress should attempt to impeach a president in order to express dissatisfaction with his policies" rather than "only if there is evidence that the president has committed a very serious crime such as treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors," with the latter phrasing coming from the Constitution's language on impeachment.

A HuffPost/YouGov poll last year found that while 35 percent of Americans initially said they supported impeaching Obama, the number dropped to 29 percent when they were given they option to say they disliked Obama, but didn't think he should be impeached.



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