Saturday, November 23, 2019

Polls: Endless Pursuit of Impeachment Spells Trouble for Democrats

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Hannah Bleau
23 Nov 20195:24

The Democrats’ desperate pursuit of impeachment is driving key voters away – a sign of danger for Democrats going into 2020 – polling reveals.

Polls, in recent days, have indicated that the general public is growing weary of House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) endless pursuit of impeachment, with survey after survey showing opposition to impeachment growing and support falling. The results, however, are exacerbated when key voters, such as independents, are isolated.

A Siena College Research Institute poll released this week showed that independent voters in New York overwhelmingly oppose impeachment, 59 percent to 37 percent. Additionally, 51 percent of independents described the inquiry as a “partisan attack on President Trump,” while 43 percent said it is a “fair investigation.”

The results coincided with a National Emerson College poll and a Politico-Morning Consult poll, both of which showed an increase in independent voters’ opposition to impeachment.

The overwhelming data led to a Vanity Fair article titled “‘It Is Hard to Read This as Anything but a Warning’: New Polling Suggests Democrats’ Impeachment Push Could Alienate Key Voters.”

“Data exclusive to Vanity Fair shows impeachment could be a losing issue for Democrats hoping to recruit Independents in 2020. ‘Lots of people who don’t like Trump who are still prepared to vote for him,’ says one political science expert,” Vanity Fair reported.

“Independents are also one of the keys, if not the key, to the 2020 elections,” the article read, noting the shift in sentiments among those voters in recent weeks:

Alas, for the Democrats, the promising numbers of late October and early November rapidly dissipated, and polling numbers have reverted to a level more consistent with long-term opinions on President Trump. In the latest Politico/Morning Consult poll, released on November 19, Independents opposed impeachment and removal from office 46% to 39%, a number close to the rolling averages of the last few weeks. It is notable that the poll was fielded after the first public impeachment hearings. Even the compelling testimony of witnesses like Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, failed to move the needle on public opinion. That doesn’t mean further hearings won’t energize greater opposition to Trump, but it’s a little hard to imagine more effective testimony than that offered by Yovanovitch and some of her Foreign Service colleagues.

To understand the relative lack of enthusiasm among Independents for impeachment, I took a close look at data from the most recent Politico/Morning Consult tracking poll, a poll in which the Hive had the opportunity to propose questions focused on Independents and their views. The data, along with supplementary interviews, illustrates an electorate that believes the impeachment inquiry is connected to the priorities of politicians and the media—not of ordinary voters—and an electorate confused and dispirited by the nonstop parade of Washington scandals.

Vanity Fair listed three factors that are key to understanding the thinking of independent voters, who will play a significant role in the 2020 election:
“The first is that, in their view, impeachment distracts from issues they care about.”
“The second factor is the view among Independents that impeachment reflects the agenda of the political establishment and the media.”
“Third, as other reporting has suggested, Independents suffer from scandal fatigue and overall confusion.”

Independents see impeachment as a continuation of the partisan bickering and media excess that began even before his inauguration. By massive margins, Independents say that the impeachment issue is “more important to politicians than it is to me” (62% to 22%) and “more important to the media than it is to me” (61% to 23%). It is hard to read this as anything but a warning to the Democratic leadership and candidates: Stop talking about issues that matter to you, not to me. Impeachment proceedings are viewed as bread and circuses for the anti-Trump crowd in Washington and the media—or, as Stanford political science professor Morris Fiorina described it to me, “entertainment and confirmation.” That’s a dangerous perception as Democrats approach one of the most consequential and fraught elections of our times.

The article marvels over the fact that Trump appears to be going through the impeachment process “largely unscathed” but argues that it should not be attributed, necessarily, to independents and their trust of the president:

Most Independents believe, by 39% to 31%, that the president did what the whistle-blower and subsequent witnesses have said he did: withheld military aid to Ukraine until the Ukrainians agreed to announce investigations into his political rivals. And by similar margins, 40% to 35%, Independents believe Trump “abused his power” to affect the 2020 elections.”

The outlet added that it is “somewhat remarkable that so many people see an abuse of power, but seem unwilling to hold it against the president in any meaningful way.”

The GOP has overwhelmingly declared victory after the two weeks of public impeachment hearings, following the witnesses’ inability to clearly demonstrate an impeachable offense.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s admission – that Trump told him he wanted “nothing” and “no quid pro quo” – underscored the Democrats’ lack of a sound basis for the inquiry, Republicans contend.

Nonetheless, the public hearings did not bode well for the Democrats from a public opinion standpoint – a factor they must consider and hurdle they will have to overcome should House Democrats choose to impeach the president.

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