For several weeks, the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has been a big part of the news from the United States. The process is complex, and new details are added every day. But there was a moment this week that may be seen as a critical point: the testimony of the ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, which could weaken Trump’s case on Ukraine.
For some experts, Sondland’s statements mark a before and after in the impeachment process. So let’s take advantage of this critical moment to document what Mexicans think about Trump’s impeachment.
Last month, we included a question about the topic in El Financiero’s national telephone poll: “Do you believe that Donald Trump will be removed from presidential office in the impeachment process?” The poll of 410 adults was conducted on Oct. 4 and 5, so it has already been almost seven weeks; during that time, the impeachment process has continued. Nevertheless, the data marks a point in time prior to Sondland’s testimony, so we can learn what Mexicans thought about the issue then. It also opens up the opportunity to explore subsequent changes in public perception in our country about the chances that President Trump will be removed from office.
According to the poll, opinion is very divided: 42% of Mexicans interviewed believe that Trump will be removed from office, while another 42% believe that he will not. National public opinion is not only divided but tied on this issue. The remaining 16% are not sure what to think.
And it’s no wonder. Despite the fact that a lot of information has emerged (several U.S. media outlets even have blogs about the events and hearings in progress), this information is highly specialized. Because of this, events such as Sondland’s testimony can send signals almost the way things happen in sports: as if they were points for or against the president. The general reading might be that the Sondland testimony scored a goal against Trump, but there is also the Trumpist spin (the counter-reading) that apparently has been quite effective among his supporters.
Getting back to the poll in Mexico, the results reveal that the predominant belief among those interviewed who say they are very interested in politics is that Trump will be removed from office: 61% say yes, and 26% no. In contrast, for those who express no interest in politics, the results are reversed: 33% believe that he will be removed and 43% don’t. Who will turn out to be right, those who are interested in politics, or those who are not?
In the United States, the issue of impeachment is highly partisan: supporters of the Democratic and Republican parties often see things from quite different perspectives and with quite different emotions. In Mexico, partisanship also appears to be linked to beliefs with respect to impeachment, although the interpretation and significance of those beliefs are not as clear-cut as in the U.S. In Mexico, the majority of Morenistas and Perredistas believe that Trump will be removed from office; in contrast, Panistas believe that he will not; while Priistas are divided in their opinions.*
If we look at opinion about President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s accomplishments, those who approve of his administration are more convinced that there will be a removal from office in the U.S., although this is not the majority view (44%, as opposed to 38% who do not believe that it will happen). In contrast, those who disapprove of López Obrador’s administration are more likely to believe that removal from office will not take place (48%, as opposed to 39% who believe that it will).
It is interesting to observe these political divisions in our country with respect to impeachment. There might not have been any differences of opinion, because neither the Mexican president nor his government has attempted to influence public opinion on this issue. As in other matters, we will have to keep an eye out to see whether or not points of view on Trump’s impeachment change, and if so, how.
*Translator’s note: Morenistas, Perredistas, Panistas and Priistas are supporters of various Mexican political parties.