Armed with polls showing voters overwhelmingly oppose impeaching President Trump, Democrats from moderate districts are warning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to shut down the liberal crusade.
“It’s very frustrating for me — someone coming from a district that was one of the districts that helped get us into the majority — having so much focus on things like impeachment or other issues that are divisive,” New York Congressman Anthony Brindisi tells POLITICO. “We should be focusing on kitchen table issues.”
Brindisi brought his concerns directly to Pelosi before speaking to POLITICO. His district is has a slight Republican majority and Trump won it in 2016 with 55 percent of the vote. Brindisi defeated the incumbent Republican last year by only 0.6 percent.
“The battleground freshman told Pelosi and other leaders at a closed-door meeting that he and other centrists feared that talk of impeaching President Donald Trump was threatening to swamp the Democratic agenda, according to multiple people in the room,” POLITICO reports.
Pelosi tried to calm their fears by claiming she does not have 218 votes to impeach Trump in the full House. The party’s liberal wing feels they do not need to actually impeach Trump, and simply holding the hearings will air so much evidence against him voters will defeat his re-election. Moderates fear the hearings will backfire by enraging voters who may not approve of Trump but are tired of hearing Democrats attack him.
A two-page memo given to House Democrats and obtained by POLITICO shows Democrats are going into the 2020 elections with an eight-point advantage on the “generic ballot.” That’s about the same as the 7.3 percent generic ballot lead Democrats had in 2018, in which they picked up 41 seats.
But the memo warns that only 10 percent of voters feel impeaching Trump should be a “priority of Congress,” but 54 percent believe it is Democrats’ top priority, making impeachment the #1 issue voters associate with the party. The memo warns that Democrats’ obsession with impeachment could lead to the party having problems “breaking through with voters.”
Polling shows that while most voters disapprove of Trump’s personality and ethics, and handling of most issues, they also feel he hasn’t engaged in impeachable conduct. Voters perceive impeachment as Democrats going too far in seeking political retribution and would prefer Democrats focus on health care and immigration (though voters are split on what exactly should be done).
That leaves Democrats like Brindisi in peril. A slight swing away from Democrats means representatives like him, who won in majority-Republican districts, may lose their seats should Democrats begin to see their generic ballot lead erode.
Trump won in 2016 because while most voters didn’t like him, an even greater number disliked Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton. Exit polling showed 18 percent of voters disapproved of both candidates, but they voted for Trump over Clinton by a crushing 17 percent margin, 47 percent for Trump to 30 percent for Clinton.
Moderate Democrats fear impeachment proceedings will set up a repeat of 2016, in which voters may not like Trump, but they feel his Democrat opposition doesn’t care about their lifestyles or concerns.
“If I wake up every morning and go to bed every night, and look at the TV during the day, and it says impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, investigation. Then what is the American public going to think?” Arizona Congressman Tom O’Halleran tells POLITICO. Trump won O’Halleran’s Republican-majority district by one percent in 2016.