New polls: Americans more conflicted after end of Mueller probe

New polls released after special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation ended show Americans are split on major aspects of the probe and are feeling more conflicted about it than they previously were.

But despite muddied waters regarding the investigation, polling has shown that some trends continue to bear out: Americans say the report and its findings aren’t going to change their minds about their 2020 votes or Trump’s approval rating.

Americans are split on major points

A new Washington Post-Schar School poll released Saturday also shows that slightly more than half of Americans accept that Trump’s campaign did not criminally conspire with the Russian government to win, and another 41% don’t accept that conclusion.

The Washington Post poll was completed in the wake of Attorney General William Barr sending Congress a four-page summary of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. That probe also investigated if there was any connection between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Barr quoted Mueller as saying the “investigation did not establish” collusion between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign.

The Post poll showed Americans were split on whether House Democrats should continue to investigate whether Trump had obstructed justice in the investigation. Barr quoted Mueller as saying his “report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote that the evidence in Mueller’s report “is not sufficient to establish” obstruction of justice.

Americans tended to be split as to whether Barr’s decision was appropriate — 39% said it was, because of his authority as attorney general, and 41% said it wasn’t, because he had criticized Mueller’s obstruction inquiry before he had taken his position.

After the release of the memo, Americans are still mostly split on whether Trump committed any wrongdoing.

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Friday and conducted after the memo had been released showed 56% of adults think questions still exist about whether Trump committed any wrongdoing. A little more than a third of adults said the report’s findings clear Trump of wrongdoing.

Similarly, a CBS News poll done after the memo was released found 36% of adults said it’s too soon to say if the Mueller report has cleared Trump of wrongdoing. A little more than a third said Trump has been cleared and 23% said he has not been cleared of wrongdoing.

The NPR/PBS/Marist poll also showed adults are split about whether Congress should keep investigating the question of obstruction of justice and whether it should continue to hold hearings. About a quarter of adults say Trump did something illegal in his dealings with Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a third say he did something unethical and 35% say he’s done nothing wrong.

Shifting attitudes

A CNN poll taken before the Mueller investigation ended found a majority who reported that the issue was a serious matter that should be fully investigated, raising the question as to whether Americans consider Mueller’s report “fully investigated.” The split in the Washington Post-Schar poll shows that some may, but some may not.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday found fewer Americans who said the Mueller investigation has given them more doubts about Trump’s presidency, finding shifting views on Trump, the Russia investigation and the future of his presidency.

The NBC/WSJ poll found 36% of Americans said Mueller’s investigation has given them more doubts about Trump’s presidency, which is down from 48% in February. According to NBC/WSJ, most of that shift came from Democrats — 61% expressed more doubts as a result of the investigation, down from 82% in February.

Democrats, for one, aren’t very happy with how Mueller’s report shook out: 63% of them said they aren’t satisfied with its conclusions, according to the Post poll. Republicans tend to be more content, as 79% said they are satisfied with Mueller’s findings as summarized by the Barr memo. Democrats tended to widely approve of Mueller’s investigation in polling conducted before the investigation ended.

Points of agreement remain

The NBC/WSJ poll showed Trump’s approval rating has remained relatively steady through the release of the memo, as 43% said they approved of the job the President is doing and 53% disapprove. This is within the 3.1 percentage point sampling margin for error on the poll in February, when 46% approved of his job performance.

In the Post poll, half of Americans said the findings of Mueller’s investigation make no difference in their votes in next year’s presidential election, which was similar to a CNN poll by SSRS last week conducted after Barr’s memo was released. In that poll, 13% said Mueller’s findings could sway their decisions about whom to support in 2020, either for Trump or against him. A combined 86% said the investigation won’t make a difference in their votes.

The NBC/WSJ poll and the Washington Post-Schar poll also showed Americans generally agree that Congress shouldn’t begin impeachment proceedings to remove Trump from office. In the Post poll, 54% said impeachment proceedings should not be started, and 47% said the same in the NBC/WSJ poll. The NBC/WSJ poll included an option to continue investigating to see if there is enough evidence to hold impeachment hearings in the future (33% chose this option), drawing some numbers away from those who thought there shouldn’t be any hearings.

The NBC/WSJ poll was done March 23-27, with questions related to the Barr memo asked March 25-27. The poll surveyed 1,000 people and the margin of error is 3.1 percentage points.

The Washington Post-Schar School poll was done March 26-29 using a random sample of 640 adults. The margin of error is 4.5 percentage points.

The CBS poll was conducted March 25-26 among 1,0002 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The NPR/PBS/Marist poll was conducted between March 25-27 among 938 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.