News and Commentary

Impeachment Inquiry Now Costing Dems Key 2020 Battleground States
House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA), Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) hold a news conference following the passage of a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry centered on U.S. President Donald Trump October 31, 2019 in Washington, DC. The resolution, passed by a vote of 232-196, creates the legal framework for public hearings, procedures for the White House to respond to evidence and the process for consideration of future articles of impeachment by the full House of Representatives. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inqiry is already worrying moderate Democrats who need to hang on to their seats in contested races, but could it also be crumbling the Democrats’ hopes of retaking the White House?

A new report from the Associated Press suggests that voters in battleground states like Wisconsin — which ultimately cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election — are turned off by the impeachment hearings and believe Democrats, not Republicans, should suffer for the impeachment effort.

“There’s not a lot that Republicans and Democrats in this political battlefield agree on, but the impeachment probe into President Donald Trump may have surfaced one: The public hearings aren’t moving the needle,” AP said Wednesday.

“After 30 hours of televised hearings, a dozen witnesses, at least a couple of major revelations and scores of tweeted rebuttals, voters in Wisconsin and nationwide aren’t changing their minds about removing the Republican president,” the outlet continued, citing recent polling. “If they came into the inquiry defensive of Trump, they likely still are. And if they were inclined to think the president abused his power, they didn’t need televised hearings to prove it.”

So far, much of the reporting on the public’s reception to Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) two week investigation into whether the President and his allies inked a “quid-pro-quo” agreement with Urkainian officials, trading millions of dollars in foreign aid for assurances that Ukrainian prosecutors would announce an investigation into whether former Vice President Joe Biden abused his office and pressured Ukrainian officials not to investigate a company on which his son, Hunter, served on the board of directors, has focused on national polling. Americans remain as divided on the issue as before the hearings, according to FiveThirtyEight, though support for impeaching the president, particularly among independents, has ticked down markedly.

The Associated Press says the same is true inside battleground states, where just a handful of voters hold the key to President Trump’s re-election.

“In Wisconsin, views on impeachment appear to be slightly more negative. A Marquette University Law School poll of Wisconsin registered voters that was conducted during the first week of the impeachment hearings showed 47% of registered voters approve of the job Trump is doing, and more expressed opposition than support for impeachment and removal, 53% to 40%, figures largely unchanged from October.”

That’s rough news for Democrats who had hoped the impeachment proceedings, which were a calculated political risk, would move the needle towards the Democratic Party ahead of the 2020 presidential contest. It turns out, the hearings have mostly steeled Trump supporters, guaranteeing they’ll lock in a vote for the President next November, and they haven’t managed to sway those on the fence.

With the news that impeachment isn’t nearly as popular as they’d hoped — support for impeaching the president dropped for a second time this week, according to the Washington Examiner — Dems likely hoped the national trend wouldn’t trickle downward into the states, where they’re battling in close House and Senate races. Over the weekend, it became clear that embattled Democrats want Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to call off an impeachment vote and save their seats, and some moderate and “red state ” Dems are even complaining privately that the party has abandoned them, both in terms of message and financial help, in its zeal to harm the President.

In battleground legislator, a stalwart Dem from solid-blue Detroit, begged Democrats to save what they can and substitute a censure motion for an impeachment vote. Her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Wisconsin was already proving tough for Democrats; a New York Times poll from several weeks ago showed that the more progressive message Democrats are pushing through candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) isn’t resonating in the Rust Belt, and only one candidate, Biden, is even making inroads on Donald Trump’s support in midwestern battleground states.