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CNN Poll: Support for impeaching Trump rises among independents and Republicans

WASHINGTON(CNN) Americans are about evenly split over impeaching President Donald Trump and removing him from office, as support for that move has risen among independents and Republicans, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS after the announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry by House Democrats last week.

About half, 47%, support impeaching the President and removing him from office, up from 41% who felt that way in a CNN poll in May. The current level matches the high point for impeaching Trump in previous CNN polling -- 47% said they felt that way in September 2018.

RELATED: Full poll results

The share who favor impeachment and removal from office now narrowly outpaces the share who say they don't feel that way -- a first in CNN polling -- although the two figures are within the poll's margin of sampling error. Opposition stands at 45% in the new poll, down from 54% who said so in May and the lowest point in CNN polling on this topic.

The change since May has largely come among independents and Republicans. About three-quarters of Democrats favor impeaching Trump and removing him from office, roughly the same as in May, while among independents, support for impeachment and removal has risen 11 points to 46% among independents and 8 points to 14% among Republicans.

The shift has also come notably among younger Americans. Sixty percent of those under age 35 now say they support impeaching Trump and removing him from office, up from 43% who felt that way in May, while support for the move among older Americans has held about even (42% now vs. 40% in May). Previous CNN polling on impeachment has not found such a stark gap by age.

And that shift is concentrated on the GOP side. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents under age 50, support for impeaching Trump and removing him from office has risen from 9% in May to 22% now, while views among older Republicans and Republican leaners have held about even with just 8% in favor of impeachment and removal from office.

The survey also finds 48% say Trump used the presidency improperly to gain political advantage against a potential 2020 opponent in his interactions with the president of Ukraine, 39% say he did not use his office improperly and 10% say they don't know enough to say.

The partisan divide on this question mirrors that on impeachment and removal from office: 74% of Democrats say he used the office improperly, along with 47% of independents and 17% of Republicans. About seven in 10 Republicans (71%) say Trump's actions in this situation were not an improper use of the office.

Americans are more likely to say that most congressional Democrats back impeachment because they believe Trump committed impeachable offenses (49%) than because they are out to get Trump at all costs (38%). That's a shift from public sentiment about the House majority's motivations in impeaching former President Bill Clinton. In 1998, just before the full House voted to impeach Clinton, 47% felt that most congressional Republicans backed impeachment because they were out to get Clinton, while 42% said it was because most congressional Republicans thought he had committed impeachable offenses.

On the GOP side, the public is about evenly split over whether their opposition to impeaching Trump is more because they are out to protect the President at all costs (42%) or because they believe he has not committed impeachable offenses (43%). That's a closer divide than on public perceptions of Democratic handling of Clinton; 51% thought House Democrats were out to protect Clinton at all costs.

This CNN poll was conducted by SSRS using its Omnibus survey platform. Interviews were conducted by landline and cellular telephone with 1,009 adults nationwide between September 24 and 29. Results among the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. It is larger for subgroups.

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