Community leaders think Senate will go along with impeachment conviction

January 29, 2021 6:00am
Photo of Chris Vass
Chattanooga, TN Correspondent

Nearly three-fourths of respondents to a new Power Poll survey this week said they believe the U.S. Senate should convict former President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial.

Nearly three-fourths of respondents to a new Power Poll survey this week said they believe the U.S. Senate should convict former President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial.

The Power Poll survey of influential local residents, conducted Monday through Thursday, asked respondents: “The U.S. House of Representatives’ vote to impeach the president for a second time was historic. Focus now turns to the Senate. Do you believe the Senate should convict Donald Trump?”

About 72% said yes; 28% said no.

However, fewer poll respondents believe the Senate will do just that.

When asked, “Do you think the Senate will convict Donald Trump?,” two-thirds — 67% — indicated they think senators will not convict the former president, who was impeached Jan. 13 in the House of Representatives on an “incitement of insurrection” charge. Just a third — 33% — said they think the Senate will convict Trump.

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The Power Poll surveyed 134 Chattanoogans, and 81 replied, for a response rate of 60%. The poll is a monthly survey of elected officials and leaders from business, civic and nonprofit organizations, media and education. While the survey is not a scientific poll, results offer insights into the opinions and beliefs of key decision-makers in the area.

Local activist and retired educator Franklin McCallie said Republicans must stand for principle and country when a Senate vote is held.

“Republican senators must look clearly — without fear or favor — at the criminal offense Trump committed, and join Democratic senators” to convict. “If ever ‘history’ was watching, this is the vote.”

The 232-197 vote to impeach in the House, which included 10 Republicans joining with Democrats, was conducted a week after Trump held a “Save America” rally near the Capitol. He told supporters, “All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats, which is what they’re doing and stolen by the fake news media. That’s what they’ve done and what they’re doing. We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”

Afterward, a mob violently stormed and vandalized the Capitol; five people died.

Following the Capitol siege, Trump took to his favorite communication tool — Twitter — but was banned from the social media platform within days. Other tech companies have restricted his social media activity or related accounts.

Two-thirds of Power Poll respondents approve of those moves, which have unleashed a torrent of debate nationwide about free speech.

When asked, “Do you agree with the decision by social media companies to ban President Donald Trump from their platforms?,” 68% said yes; 24% said no and 9% were unsure.

“The ‘rigged election’ narrative nearly broke our democracy and the work to rebuild must include a new definition of what free speech means in a virtual form,” Reflection Riding President Mark McKnight wrote. “While it’s concerning to see anyone silenced, the big tech companies had to act to prevent further violence.”

Local consultant Zach Wamp, a former Republican congressman representing the 3rd District, noted that the “‘fire in a crowded theater’ limit to First Amendment expression doesn’t really apply over the internet so many nations, including the U.S., now wrestle with what are reasonable limits because the ‘rigged election’ lie brought great damage to the republic and social media fueled the insurrection.”

In answer to the question, “Do you think social media companies favor the views of liberals or conservatives?,” 47% of survey respondents said companies “favor neither;” 44% said “favor liberals;” 3% said “favor conservatives;” and 6% said there were unsure.

Turning to the coronavirus pandemic and the anemic vaccine rollout in Tennessee and across the country, 56% of Power Poll respondents said they are “somewhat confident” that vaccination efforts will improve.

The survey asked “How confident are you that Tennessee state health officials and Hamilton County officials can turn distribution problems around quickly?” About 10% said “very confident,” 56% said “somewhat confident;” 32% said “not confident;” and 2.5% said “don’t know.”

Chattanooga City Council member Carol Berz said the county should have been better prepared.

“Perhaps the private sector would have done better?” she wrote. “At any rate, thanks to all those who have sacrificed their time and energy to the distribution project. Perhaps we’ll get it together soon. Our lives depend on it.”

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