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NPR-Marist Poll On Impeachment, Democratic Presidential Candidates

NOEL KING, HOST:

A new poll from NPR, the PBS NewsHour and Marist is out this morning. It finds that after three weeks of public hearings, people's views on impeachment haven't really changed. NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro is on the line. Hey, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.

KING: You've been looking into the numbers around impeachment in this poll, and the headline is?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, despite the three weeks of these public hearings, as you notice, there's statistically no change, and Americans are divided. So there you go. Forty-eight percent are against impeachment of President Trump, while 47% are in favor of it. Meanwhile, Trump's approval rating is at 42%. That might be familiar because it's pretty much exactly where it's been for the entirety of his presidency. And Republicans, by the way, more in his corner than ever - 91% approve of the job he's doing.

KING: Ninety-one percent - wow. Now, this poll also asked a lot of questions about the Democrats running for the nomination. What do we know there?

MONTANARO: Well, there you have Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in the lead. Together, they take up about half of the Democratic primary support. Biden is at 24% percent, Sanders at 22%. Then it's Elizabeth Warren at 17%, and Pete Buttigieg, the former - the mayor of South Bend, Ind., with 13%. Andrew Yang is next at 5%. So there's a very clear top tier of four candidates. But look - a lot can happen. Three quarters of Democratic voters in the poll say that they could still change their minds.

KING: Three quarters of Democratic voters.

MONTANARO: That's amazing.

KING: Yeah, no, that is not a small - that's not a small number of people. What does the poll tell us, Domenico, about which voters are getting behind which leading candidates?

MONTANARO: Yeah, they have very different coalitions supporting them. For Biden, it's older voters, moderates, women without a college degree and people in the South, and the South in the Democratic primary is home to a lot of African American voters. But notably, it's Bernie Sanders who leads with - leads narrowly with nonwhite voters in the poll overall. That could be because of his strength, as we've seen, with younger voters in the poll. There are indications, also, that Sanders has some real strength with Latinos. And Sanders also does quite well with progressives. He leads with them.

Elizabeth Warren is second to Sanders with progressives, and she's also second, though, to Pete Buttigieg with college-educated whites. So when we think about why Warren has struggled in the last few weeks after debating her "Medicare for All" plan, realize she's fighting a two-front battle with Sanders for progressives and Buttigieg for whites with a college degree.

KING: And Medicare for All is going to be one of those big issues on which this is fought.

MONTANARO: Yeah.

KING: Did the poll tell us what issues people care about most?

MONTANARO: Yeah. Overall, the economy was at the top of the list - surprise, surprise. But that was followed by health care, climate change and education. But Republicans and Democrats - very different views about what's important. For Democrats, it's health care, climate change and then the economy. For Republicans, it's overwhelmingly the economy. Forty-one percent said the economy was the most important issue to them. No. 2 on the list - immigration at just 17% and health care at 16%.

We also asked about policy proposals Democrats are putting forward. And that issue we've been talking about most, Medicare for All, as a replacement to private health insurance - popular with Democrats, but not overall with the general election electorate.

KING: NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Thanks.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.