Vulnerable Democrats are telling party leaders that they are concerned the House Intelligence Committee didn’t make its case for impeachment to the American people and that Republicans will have the upper hand on messaging as legislators head home for Thanksgiving.
Politico reports that moderate and “red-state” Democrats are particularly worried, especially with the news that the GOP has purchased more than $8 million in ads to air during the Thanksgiving holiday, targeting potential voters who weren’t convinced by Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) “open and shut” case for impeachment, which aired over the last two weeks.
The GOP plans to air the ads in “vulnerable” districts with lots of independents and moderate Democrats — the same voters who abandoned the Democrat party to vote for now-President Donald Trump back in 2012. Those voters are approachable on the issue, according to several polls taken last week.
Independents have been abandoning the impeachment inquiry in droves, and the media has followed suit. The hearings that took place late last week were relegated to C-SPAN and 24-hour cable news networks as basic cable abandoned them for more popular regular programming. Support for impeaching the president fell below 50% for the first time on Friday, as independents indicated they were unconvinced by Rep. Schiff’s dog-and-pony show.
Abandonment seems to be a theme. Politico reports that “swing-district Democrats are receiving little reinforcement from their own party or even other liberal coalitions. Democratic and pro-impeachment groups have spent about $2.7 million in TV ads,” but most of that has gone to targeting vulnerable Republicans, not bolstering vulnerable Democrats.
“Many of us have been expressing our concerns to leadership,” said a Democratic lawmaker who refused to be named told Politico. “You don’t want to have to play catch up.”
“Everyone knows you don’t just take a shot and sit there,” the lawmaker said. “It’s like someone taped our arms to our side and punched us in the face.”
Democrats say they’ve been bringing up the issue to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), but that the Speaker has been less than helpful. Left-leaning organizations have promised more spending, but are focusing their efforts, it seems, on legislative priorities like health care, rather than on helping make the case that Democrats are doing the right thing by pursuing impeachment rather than, say, budget priorities.
In all of this, Pelosi has been conspicuously absent. The Speaker faded into the background as the impeachment inquiry wore on, leaving little to assure Democrats that their party leadership was backing the impeachment effort.
Part of the problem may be that the Democrats simply don’t have the same amount of money to spend as Republicans. Anyone competing for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is spending money on himself or herself, not the party as a whole — and there’s no requirement that they “save” vulnerable Members of Congress before FEC rules about co-spending kick in (after they official snag the nod). And while the President and the GOP are raking in the cash, the Democratic Party is still in the red from the presidential campaign four years ago.
Thanksgiving won’t be the end of troubles for Democrats, either. The GOP has already announced a $10 million ad spend to air during the holidays.