New poll shows voters believe Bolton over Trump

According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, bombshell revelations from the upcoming book by former national security adviser John Bolton — which reportedly includes an account of President Trump insisting that military aid to Ukraine be withheld until officials there announced investigations into his political rivals — have moved public opinion further in favor of calling Bolton to testify in Trump’s ongoing impeachment trial.   

Bolton’s claim is the first time a senior administration official has provided first-person evidence of an explicit quid pro quo in the president’s dealings with Ukraine, an issue at the heart of the Senate proceedings.

Trump has denied the allegation, tweeting that he “NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats.” Yet when the Yahoo News/YouGov poll asked registered voters who they believed, 45 percent said Bolton and only 39 percent said Trump.  

The poll found that a clear majority of registered voters (55 percent) now want to hear Bolton’s testimony, up two percentage points from the previous Yahoo News/YouGov poll, which was conducted before the Bolton news broke. Only 29 percent of registered voters say they don’t want to hear from Bolton.

Seeking to gauge how views on impeachment have shifted over the last week, the new poll surveyed the same voters as the earlier poll and was conducted Jan. 28 and 29.

Among the more than 1,200 respondents surveyed both before and after the Bolton revelations, 23 percent of those who initially said the Senate should not call new witnesses have changed their mind since last week, with 11 percent now saying the Senate should call new witnesses and 12 percent now saying they’re not sure. A smaller percentage (16 percent) have moved in the opposite direction on witnesses, from “yes” to “no” or “not sure.”

Over the last week there was even more movement on the question of whether Bolton himself should testify, with a combined 35 percent of those who previously said “no” moving to “yes” (20 percent) or “not sure” (15 percent). Meanwhile, only 17 percent of those who previously said “yes” moved to “no (11 percent) or “not sure” (6 percent).

 

Yet the poll also found that the Bolton revelations have polarized views on impeachment witnesses. Last week, 43 percent of Republicans said the Senate should not call new witnesses; 35 percent said new witnesses should be called. In the wake of the Bolton news, 56 percent of Republicans now say the Senate should not call witnesses while only 20 percent say new witness should be called. That’s a nearly 30-point net shift among Republicans against new witnesses in a single week.

Both Democrats and Independents continue to favor new witnesses, with 86 percent of Democrats saying they should be called and 53 percent of Independents saying the same.

Among Republicans, the shift against calling Bolton himself has been nearly as pronounced. When asked last week whether they wanted to hear Bolton testify, 33 percent of Republicans said yes; 39 percent said no. This week, however, 53 percent of Republicans said they did not want to hear from Bolton while only 25 percent said they did want to hear from him — a net shift of more than 20 percentage points. At the same time, the percentage of Democrats saying they want to hear from Bolton increased 10 points from last week to this week.

Such polarization has actually depressed overall interest in new witnesses, with the percentage of registered voters who say they want to hear from other figures falling slightly from last week. Even so, majorities of registered voters still want to hear testimony from Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani (56 percent) and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (56 percent). Interest in hearing from Joe Biden and his son Hunter, on the other hand, has fallen below 50 percent among registered voters since last week.

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Former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton
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Former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 17: Former National Security Advisor John Bolton discusses the "current threats to national security" during a forum moderated by Peter Feaver, the director of Duke's American Grand Strategy, at the Page Auditorium on the campus of Duke University on February 17, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina. A sold out crowd joined to listen to reflections from John Bolton's life's work. Questions from the audience were offered to Bolton by the moderator. A scheduled protest was held outside while attendees lined up for entrance. (Photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 17: Former National Security Advisor John Bolton discusses the "current threats to national security" during a forum moderated by Peter Feaver, the director of Duke's American Grand Strategy, at the Page Auditorium on the campus of Duke University on February 17, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina. A sold out crowd joined to listen to reflections from John Bolton's life's work. Questions from the audience were offered to Bolton by the moderator. A scheduled protest was held outside while attendees lined up for entrance. (Photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)
John Bolton, national security advisor, speaks during a White House press briefing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. Russian efforts to interfere in upcoming U.S. midterm elections have yet to reach the intensity of the Kremlin's campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential vote, but they're only 'a keyboard click away' from a more serious attack, Director of National Intelligence�Dan Coats�said. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
OXON HILL, MD, UNITED STATES - 2018/02/22: John Bolton, Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) sponsored by the American Conservative Union held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 08: US Ambassador to United Nations John Bolton speaks at the National Oversight and Government Reform Committee on moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on Capitol Hill on November 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks during the American Conservative Union Conference March 6, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland. The annual conference is a meeting of politically conservatives Americans. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
NASHUA, NH - APRIL 17: Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 17, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire. The Summit brought together local and national Republicans and was attended by all the Republicans candidates as well as those eyeing a run for the nomination. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 29: Former United States ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition spring leadership meeting at The Venetian Las Vegas on March 29, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Republican Jewish Coalition began its annual meeting with potential Republican presidential candidates in attendance, along with Republican super donor Sheldon Adelson. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 24: Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks to guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit on January 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The summit is hosting a group of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates to discuss core conservative principles ahead of the January 2016 Iowa Caucuses. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 4: US President George W. Bush (R) and Ambassador to the UN John Bolton (L) meet in the Oval Office of the White House December 4, 2006 in Washington, DC. Bush accepted Bolton's resignation as Ambassador to the United Nations when his term is up in January 2007. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 03: Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. More than 70,000 peope are expected to attend the NRA's 3-day annual meeting that features nearly 550 exhibitors, gun trade show and a political rally. The Show runs from May 3-5. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations (R) and Aaron Abramovitch, Director-General of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs attend a panel during the eighth annual Herzliya Conference in Herzliya, 22 January 2008. The eight annual Herzliya Conference, entitled Balance of Israel's National Security, and coordinated by the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya's Lauder School of Government, started yesterday and lasts for 3 days. The theme for this year's conference is 'Israel at 60: Tests of Endurance.' AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 14: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton addresses the Security Council after it unanimously voted in favor of the resolution for sanctions against North Korea at the United Nations headquarters October 14, 2006 in New York City. The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution which demands that North Korea destroy all of its nuclear weapons and bans the import and export of materials used for the creation of weapons of mass destruction. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)
(FILES) A file picture dated 10 October 2006 shows former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaking to the media after a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and United States) plus Japan, where they discussed a resolution on the North Korea nuclear situation at the UN headquarters in New York. Bolton said 21 January 2008 that Israel may have to take military action to prevent its archfoe Iran from acquiring an atomic bomb. Bolton also said that further UN sanctions against the Islamic republic will be ineffective in stopping Iran's controversial nuclear programme which Israel and the US believe is aimed at developing a bomb -- a claim denied by Tehran. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED NATIONS, UNITED NATIONS: John Bolton (C), United States Ambassador to the United Nations, speaks to the media 13 October 2006 before a Security Council meeting about Georgia, to be followed by discussions on the North Korea resolution at UN headquarters in New York. The UN Security Council on Friday was set to consider a compromise draft resolution mandating wide-ranging sanctions against North Korea over its declared nuclear test but specifically ruling out the use of force. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 13: John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, speaks to the media after a meeting with the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany concerning Iran at the French Mission to the UN November 13, 2006 in New York City. Bolton received a controversial recess appointment to the post by President Bush in August 2005 and was renominated last week, but would face confirmation from a new Democrat-controlled Senate if not voted on by the current Congress' recess in January. Democrats oppose the nomination. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray, arrive to attend a briefing on election security in the White House press briefing room at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
HELSINKI, FINLAND JULY 16, 2018: US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr (C) and US National Security Adviser John Bolton (R) talking as Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump meet at the Presidential Palace. Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS (Photo by Alexei Nikolsky\TASS via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 02: National Security Advisor John Bolton, briefs the media on election interference, at the White House, on August 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. The administration's top security officials briefed the media on election interference. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
National Security Advisor John Bolton (R) attends a joint press conference of the US and Russian Presidents after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. - The US and Russian leaders opened an historic summit in Helsinki, with Donald Trump promising an 'extraordinary relationship' and Vladimir Putin saying it was high time to thrash out disputes around the world. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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What hasn’t changed is the public’s overarching opinion about Trump’s alleged misconduct. A majority of registered voters (52 percent yes vs. 43 percent no) continue to say that he abused his power as president; at the same time, registered voters remain evenly divided (44 percent yes vs. 46 percent no) over the question of whether the president should be removed from office.

That said, the Senate’s upcoming vote Friday on whether to allow new witnesses — a development Republicans now believe they have the votes to block — could trigger real political consequences for senators facing reelection in November. Asked whether their senator’s decision to vote against calling new witnesses will make them more or less likely to vote for that senator on Election Day, 45 percent of registered voters in states with 2020 Senate elections said “less likely.” Only 21 percent said the opposite.  

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