Impeachment support grows in polls. How’s it playing back home?
We can see how the arrow of public opinion is moving in favor of the impeachment — and even the removal — of Donald Trump. At the same time, there are doom-and-gloom stories warning Democrats, especially those in swing congressional districts that flipped from red to blue in 2018, that impeaching Trump will be done at Democrats’ peril.
Except for some on the House Intelligence Committee, many of the nation’s lawmakers are home on congressional recess to take the pulse of their districts in town hall meetings. While they’re bound to hear a mix of opinions, many of those representatives say constituents who are weighing in so far are paying attention, and that they like what they’re hearing from Democrats.
Various polls show increased support across the board for the impeachment inquiry, impeachment itself, and removing Trump from office. That’s not a surprise when the details of the impeachment argument are clear and easy to understand: On a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked Zelensky for a “favor” — to smear Joe Biden, his possible Democratic rival in the 2020 election.
Support still breaks down mostly along partisan lines, and the inquiry itself receives more backing than removal. But a CNN poll showed growing support from Republicans, independents, and younger voters. From a story about the CNN poll:
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.
But representatives are still hearing more from constituents about the bread-and-butter issues such as health care costs, jobs, prescription drug prices, and gun violence, just to name a few — the issues voters feel strongly about and the reasons those voters elected Democrats in the first place.
While lawmakers are still hearing from constituents, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made sure to tell Democrats before they left Washington that the tone of the discussion about impeachment is important. “Our tone must be prayerful, respectful, solemn, worthy of the Constitution,” she told Democratic lawmakers. From a New York Times story:
Party leaders sent the rank and file home on Friday with instructions and talking points cards aimed at emphasizing the gravity of the moment. They contained two central messages for lawmakers to deliver to constituents: Mr. Trump abused his office, and Democrats would follow the facts.
“We want to keep this simple,” said Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who heads the party’s messaging arm, clutching talking points cards headlined “No One Is Above the Law.” He added: “This is not complicated. This is misconduct that the president has admitted to.”
Included with the impeachment talking points were packets on Democrats’ next major piece of legislation, a prescription drugs pricing bill, a major concern to voters. The bill would let the secretary of Health and Human Services negotiate prices of 250 drugs and would penalize drug companies that don’t negotiate with HHS.
In other words, Democrats are reminding their constituents that they can walk and chew gum at the same time.
The more moderate Democrats from swing districts seem confident that the facts about impeachment will speak for themselves. According to a story from Reuters:
Representative Susan Wild was among a number of Democrats from highly competitive “swing” seats in the House of Representatives who changed her mind to back an impeachment probe against Trump. She expects to hear about it at a town hall meeting next week in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Wild says her district is about equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, including Trump voters. But she doesn’t appear worried.
“I don’t think I have to convince them. I think the facts will convince them,” Wild told Reuters on Friday. Her office email and phone calls have been running 11-to-one in favor of an impeachment inquiry, a “marked contrast to the kind of communications that we’ve gotten the last few months from our constituents,” she said.
If a swing-district Democrat is hearing from constituents that they’re in favor of an impeachment inquiry by an 11-1 ratio, the truth is winning out. Other lawmakers report similar feedback. From a New York Times story:
In some of the more affluent districts that Democrats flipped last year, the first-term lawmakers have received reassurance in recent days that they are making the right decision. [Harley] Rouda, [Mark] Levin and [Gil] Cisneros all said in separate interviews that the calls and emails that had come into their offices in the last week had been overwhelmingly in favor of pursuing impeachment.
And Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who was the first freshman lawmaker to come out for the investigation last Monday, said that he received a number of calls from Republicans and independent voters who had pressed him to hold the president accountable.
If any House Democrats are at risk for voting to impeach Trump, don’t forget that Republicans also could face electoral peril. Republican House members in swing districts and vulnerable Senate Republican incumbents could face a backlash, no matter which way they vote. From a story in The Atlantic:
The upcoming debate could create risks for Republicans too, in the states and House districts trending away from Trump, such as the concentration of suburban seats in Texas that Democrats are targeting. If impeachment reaches the Senate, Republican incumbents such as Susan Collins of Maine, Martha McSally of Arizona, and Cory Gardner of Colorado may be unlikely to vote to convict the president — which will bind them to him more tightly in states where his position is equivocal at best.
The Atlantic story adds that, if electoral history from the 1998 and 2000 elections is any guide, after House Republicans voted to impeach President Bill Clinton, Democrats don’t have too much to worry about. Democrats gained only five House seats in the 1998 election while Republicans kept control of that chamber, and only six House incumbents were defeated in 2000. Interestingly, one of those who lost in 2000 was California Republican James Rogan, who helped manage the House’s impeachment case during the Senate trial. The Democrat who beat him? Adam Schiff.
Every day, Donald Trump seems to commit another impeachable offense. The stonewalling that members of the Trump administration are doing to deny House committees the ability to question State Department employees, for example, would just add to the obstruction of justice charges. Overuse of executive privilege as a reason not to answer questions and to block a current or former White House employee from testifying does the same. And Trump’s rants from the Oval Office and his diarrhea of tweets on the subject, including retweeting the call for a civil war, just add more fuel to the impeachment fire.
Nancy Pelosi took a measured road to an impeachment inquiry. It took a piece of evidence that was itself a smoking gun — the White House-released transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky — for her to come into the light.
It seems that voters are now following her down that well-lit road.
Originally posted on Daily Kos on Oct. 6, 2019.