Just the Facts

Independents Think Democrats Played Politics with Pompeo Nomination

By No Labels
May 1, 2018 | Blog

Nearly half of Americans say Senate Democrats were making a political point to President Trump when they voted to oppose the confirmation of Mike Pompeo as secretary of State last week, according to the latest No Labels-Harris Poll.

Forty-seven percent of all respondents said that Senate Democrats voted against Pompeo in order to send a signal to Trump. The percentage was higher among men (55 percent) than it was among women (39 percent). Only 36 percent said Democrats opposed Pompeo because they thought he was unqualified.

Sentiment that the vote was politicized was even stronger among independents, where 49 percent said Democrats were sending a message and only 32 percent said senators thought Pompeo was unqualified.

The Senate confirmed Pompeo Thursday on a 57-42 vote, with all but seven Democrats opposing the former congressman and CIA director, who was sworn in by the Supreme Court the same day. Of the Democrats who supported Pompeo, most are facing tough re-election battles in states that Trump carried. Lending credence to the idea that the vote may have been politicized is the fact that Pompeo was confirmed as CIA director just last year by a vote of 66-32, nine more votes than he received for his secretary of State nomination.


Pompeo will be busy

Pompeo will face significant challenges in office. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may have a meeting with President Trump—a groundbreaking act of diplomacy if successful—and Pompeo has been integral to the process, having already visited Pyongyang in secret as CIA director. The leaders of North Korea and South Korea held a historic meeting last week that analysts say could pave the way for major changes in how North Korea relates to the rest of the world.

The administration must also decide whether the U.S. will remain party to the Iran nuclear deal, with a deadline coming in the next few weeks. The U.S. recently acted in Syria, launching missile strikes as a retaliation against the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, and the war-torn country will no doubt require ample attention during Pompeo’s tenure. Russia remains a constant concern and the U.S. may be on a collision course with China over trade (steel tariffs, in particular).


A political confirmation vote

Amid all this, most Democrats opposed Pompeo and the poll showed sharp partisan divisions as to why.

Among Republicans and Democrats, the results were predictable. Seventy-three percent of Republicans said Senate Democrats were sending a message to President Trump with their vote, compared to 29 percent of Democrats. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats thought senators opposed Pompeo because he was not qualified, compared to only 17 percent of Republicans.

The poll was conducted by Harris Insights & Analytics April 24 to 26 and surveyed 2,026 American adults.

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