Poll Finds Libby Commutation Boosted Support for Impeachment

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    Bob Fertik
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Note: This poll inaugurates Impeach.TV, a new blog on impeachment strategy edited by Bob Fertik. For recent impeachment analysis, click here.

The commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence backfired politically on Bush and Cheney and greatly increased support for impeachment, according to a telephone poll of 1,014 adults conducted by ICR.

Before the commutation on July 2, Americans 34% of Americans supported impeachment hearings for Bush, while 55% opposed. After the commutation, support increased to 43% and opposition dropped to 50% - a net increase in 14% for impeachment hearings.

Bush Yes No Net
6/27-7/1 34% 55% -21%
7/5-7/8 43% 50% -7%

The political consequences were even worse for Cheney, who was Scooter Libby's boss. Before the commutation, 33% of Americans supported impeachment hearings for Cheney, while 51% opposed. After the commutation, support increased to 45% and opposition dropped to 44% - a net increase in 19% for impeachment hearings.

Cheney Yes No Net
6/27-7/1 33% 51% -18%
7/5-7/8 45% 44% +1%

Despite Republican efforts to dampen public anger over the commutation by invoking Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich, Americans solidly opposed the commutation by 69%-21%.

Commutation All Dem Ind Rep
Approve 21% 7% 15% 45%
-strongly 11% 5% 7% 23%
-somewhat 10% 2% 8% 22%
Disapprove 69% 87% 73% 43%
-somewhat 18% 17% 19% 21%
-strongly 51% 70% 54% 22%

While Democrats were nearly unanimous (87%-7%) in their disapproval of the commutation, Independents weren't far behind (73%-15%), and Republicans split right down the middle (43%-45%).

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol explained Bush's strategy on Fox News Sunday:

“Here’s why the president acted the way he did. He knew Bill Clinton was joining Hillary in Iowa on July 4th. No, I’m serious,” Kristol said. “So on July 2d, Ed Gillespie, who’s a very canny Republican operator, said, Let’s pardon Libby. Clinton will rise to the bait, and we could spend the last half of the week debating the unbelievable Clinton pardons against the defensible Bush pardon.”

Kristol concluded, “I regard this as an extremely clever Machiavellian move by the president. It cheers me up about the Bush White House, and I’m really heartened.”

According to president Bob Fertik, "Republicans like Bill Kristol who celebrated Bush's 'extremely clever Machiavellian move' were utterly wrong about public opinion, just as they have been wrong about everything from Iraq to Social Security to Terry Schiavo. The American people recognize a coverup when they see one, and they understand that Libby's sentence was commuted to stop him from testifying against Cheney and Bush."

Libby's commutation had little impact on Republican support for impeachment, but it greatly increased support for impeachment among Independents and Democrats.

Bush Dem Ind Rep
6/27-7/1 55% 34% 10%
7/5-7/8 66% 45% 10%
Net +11% +11% 0%

Cheney Dem Ind Rep
6/27-7/1 57% 30% 9%
7/5-7/8 64% 50% 15%
Net +7% +20% +6%

The impeachment results in the poll fell between two other post-commutation polls by American Research Group and Rasmussen Reports, and reflected the wording of the impeachment question. Polls asking about impeachment hearings get approximately 10% more support than polls asking about impeachment and removal; the poll was more precise in referring to "impeachment hearings that could lead to removal."

Bush Question Yes No Net
ARG Impeachment proceedings 45% 46% -1% Impeachment hearings that could lead to removal 43% 50% -7%
Rasmussen Impeach and remove 39% 49% -10%

Support for Bush's impeachment has topped 50% in several polls over the past two years, most recently in October 2006 when a Newsweek poll found a 51%-44% majority. But the impeachment movement was undercut when Nancy Pelosi declared impeachment "off the table."

Before Republicans began impeachment hearings for President Clinton, polls showed only 26% supported impeachment and removal, while 36% supported impeachment hearings. Despite the lack of public support, Republicans impeached Clinton in the House and put him on trial in the Senate, where he was acquitted. is a community of 300,000 Democratic and progressive activists that was founded in 2000 and is funded by members and advertisers, not by the Democratic Party. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3%. led the first protest against the Iraq War on September 12, 2002 and began its current campaign for impeachment after the publication of the Downing Street Memos in May 2005 revealed the Bush Administration had deliberately "fixed the intelligence and facts around the policy" of invading Iraq. joined with Progressive Democrats of America to create, which sponsored four impeachment polls in 2005 by Ipsos Public AffairsZogby, Rasmussen, and Zogby. worked with Rep. John Conyers on the famous "basement hearings" in June 2005 and helped organize hundreds of town hall meetings on impeachment over the past two years. has created Impeachment Committees in over 150 Congressional Districts. After hundreds of thousands marched in Washington DC on January 27 to end the war and impeach Bush, joined with other pro-impeachment groups to launch, which organized over 100 gatherings at beaches and parks to spell I-M-P-E-A-C-H on April 28.

Last Friday, joined Brave New Films and other pro-impeachment groups to launch a video calling for the impeachment of Cheney which rose to #1 on the Youtube most-watched list. is currently trying to persuade the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on H.Res. 333, Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Cheney, authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, which has 14 co-sponsors. On July 23, will join Cindy Sheehan and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern in a march from Arlington Cemetary to Rep. Conyers' office to urge him start hearings on H.Res. 333.


Here ya go, Republicans!

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Here ya go, Republicans! Here's a little more rope...