Former president Donald Trump's speedy acquittal at the hands of Senate Republicans may not have been a particularly surprising end to his historic second impeachment trial — if anything, it was the depressingly predictable outcome — but as has become abundantly clear over the past four years or so: "predictable" and "desired" are often wildly different things.
For example, measure the apparent inevitability of Trump's acquittal with the fact that the majority of the country came out of his impeachment trial believing the former president should have been found guilty, following the presentation of strong evidence regarding his role in the January 6 attempted coup at the capitol. In fact, nearly three-fifths of the country felt that Trump's impeachment trial should have ended with a guilty verdict, according to a just-released ABC/IPSOS poll taken from over 500 respondents from February 13-14.
All told, support for Trump's conviction inched up two points from 56 percent before his acquittal, to 58 percent after, and was — unsurprisingly — largely split along partisan lines; nearly 90 percent of Democrats, and 64 percent of independents stated that Trump should have been found guilty, while only 14 percent of Republicans agreed. Notably, that 14 percent mirrors that 7 Republican senators – 14 percent of the caucus — who crossed party lines to vote against Trump during the impeachment trial itself. Similarly, the 58 percent of the country that wanted a Trump conviction is almost exactly reflected in the 57 senate votes to convict.
Which isn't to say the impeachment and acquittal of former President Trump represents a complete schism between Democrats and Republicans in this country. Indeed, as has been suggested by other polls in recent weeks, both ends of the political spectrum seem largely in agreement on one thing: that our elected officials are acting largely in their own interest, rather than that of their constituents. According to the ABC/IPSOS poll, more than three quarters of Americans — Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike — believe that the senate jury cast their impeachment votes on purely partisan considerations, rather than in light of the actual evidence presented during trial.