Percentage of Americans Saying Government and Leadership Is Top Problem Rises Sharply Amid Impeachment Probe

The percentage of Americans who think the government and leadership is the country's most pressing problem has sharply increased amid the impeachment inquiry, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

Thirty-four percent of Americans say that the government, poor leadership or politicians rank as the nation's most important problem. That figure represents an 11 percentage point increase from September. The 34 percent also indicates a level of perceived government dysfunction that is higher than that seen during past political crises. During the 2013 government shutdown, 33 percent said government dysfunction was the nation's top problem.

Both Democrats and Republicans view government and poor leadership as the country's most important political problem, the survey found.

Even as the populace says that government and leadership is the nation's top problem, a Gallup poll from last week found that Americans' overall approval of Congress has shot up since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the start of the impeachment inquiry.

While respondents from both parties indicated growing concern about the functioning of the government, the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump has exposed the extent of the country's political division.

Nearly 85 percent of Democrats support impeachment, as of October 21, according to polling averages from FiveThirtyEight. But just 12.1 percent of Republicans do.

Even after acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said—then recanted—that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine as part of a quid pro quo to pressure the Ukrainian government to conduct an investigation that could politically benefit the president, few Republicans criticized the president's actions.

Mulvaney's comments prompted a quick response from Democrats, who said that the acting chief of staff had admitted that Trump used his office for personal political benefit, a claim the Trump administration has denied. Some Republicans, like Representative Francis Rooney of Florida, responded critically to Mulvaney's comments.

"I don't see how you walk back something that's clear," Rooney told CNN on Sunday. "I would say game, set, match on that."

Meanwhile, former GOP Governor of Ohio John Kasich said after Mulvaney's comments that Trump should be impeached. And Adam Kinzinger, a Republican representative from Illinois, has said he supports the investigation.

But many Republicans have railed against the investigation of the president as a witch hunt. House Republicans are attempting to censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who has led the charge on impeachment hearings.

The censure vote concerns a dramatized version of the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Schiff read to Congress. Schiff has said that the retelling was intended as "parody," but Republicans have said that Schiff lied to Congress.

Schiff has also been lambasted for saying that his committee had not been in contact with the whistleblower who filed the complaint about Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky, which led to the impeachment proceedings. The committee had been in contact with the whistleblower before the person filed the complaint.

On Monday morning, Trump urged Republicans to censure Schiff.

Pelos
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff speaks as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi listens during a news conference at the Capitol on October 15. Alex Wong/Getty Images