Media cool off polling as impeachment support drops

It has been very quiet on the polling front since the media noticed impeachment support peaking at 50% and beginning a downward spiral.

The news networks did not release any new polls over the weekend or on Monday morning, which was highly unusual, since bad impeachment polls have been headlining weekend shows for several months.

The last public poll released by CNN/SSRS last Wednesday, six days ago, showed 50% support for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, unchanged since October.

Democrats have found a way to manipulate news on many issues in their favor but they have not been able to spin the polling on impeachment or the disenchantment they are witnessing in critical swing states.

NBC’s Political Director Chuck Todd seemed surly on Meet the Press on Sunday, using a football term to downplay the massive fallout looming if impeachment plans move forward.

 “President Trump and Republicans have beaten the spread on surviving the initial political fallout of all of this. But they’re a long way away from winning the game,” said Todd.

Democrats are watching swing state polling on impeachment with sweat on their brows in spite of all the brash talk and bravado in the media.

 They have been spinning their 41-seat pick up in 2018 as a blue wave, but reality is setting in that it was more like a ripple, as impeachment sours the mood among voters in swing states. Their House majority is slim when compared to Republican gains of 54 seats in 1994 and 63 seats in 2010.

They will be defending their nail-biting 233-197 majority, with four vacancies in 2020. Republicans will try to extend their 53-47 Senate majority while clinging on to every seat they currently control. If Republicans pick up 19 seats and maintain two recently vacated GOP seats, Democrats will lose control of the House of Representatives.

Republicans and their allies have been pummeling vulnerable Democrats with $8 million of impeachment-related TV ads since September, according to Advertising Analytics, a nonpartisan firm that monitors political spending. They have spent three times more than Democrats and their affiliates on impeachment messaging.

NPR’s Don Gonyea spoke with Wisconsin pollster Charles Franklin, Michigan journalist Rochelle Riley and Salena Zito, Pennsylvania-based columnist for the Washington Examiner on Saturday to gauge attitudes among swing state voters.

Franklin found that voters were engaged at varying levels in monitoring the impeachment circus in Washington and roughly a third had tuned out completely. He is a professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee, and Wisconsin’s leading pollster, analyzing voter attitudes for the Marquette Law School Poll. He has observed a modest shift away from impeachment among voters.

“It was from 44% favoring impeachment in October to 40% in November. But the biggest finding from October to November is that not surprisingly, Republicans rallied to the president, with over 90% — really, 94% of Republicans opposed. But Democrats did not similarly rally in favor. Eighty-one percent of Democrats were in favor of impeachment, said Franklin.

“So that gap between 81 among Dems and 94 among Republicans is part of the story here. Democrats favor impeachment, but not as nearly universally as Republicans oppose it. And the modest number of independents are a bit more opposed to impeachment than in favor of it, though the gap there’s not large,” he observed.

From her vantage point in Pennsylvania, Zito has noticed that Republican suburban voters who backed Democrats in 2018 are very dissatisfied with their new members of Congress. They lied to voters that they would usher in a new style of politics, focusing on healthcare in particular.  Instead, they swung behind the push for Trump’s impeachment.

“ Not that they like Trump any more — they still don’t like him. But they’re frustrated that the vote that they did give to the Democrats has turned out to be sort of opening up the road towards impeachment, and they don’t like that,” said Zito.

 “As a Democrat, you can’t win Pennsylvania without Western Pennsylvania and Scranton. In both of these areas, economic opportunity has changed for the better because of the shale industry. If the candidate that is picked is going to be on the — ban fracking on day one, you’re not going to win Pennsylvania because those two areas are not going to vote against their pocketbook,” she said.

“But also on “Medicare for All,” and here’s why — there’s a lot of people in the insurance industry in both of those areas. It’s the No. 1 industry in Pittsburgh. And if “Medicare for All” becomes a thing, that creates a lot of instability for workers of all economic persuasions, whether they’re working class or service and/or insurance professionals. You know, that instability in their job and what happens to it is going to impact their vote. They might not show up to vote for Trump, but they won’t show up to vote at all,” Zito noted.

Riley, director of arts and culture for the city of Detroit and a former columnist at the Detroit Free Press, has also observed voter frustration toward impeachment in suburban counties like Macomb County, just outside of Detroit.

“No one’s really paying attention to issues because the issue right now is just Donald Trump, and that is not the way I think Democrats can win. Impeachment should not have been a campaign,” said Riley.

Republicans are targeting 31 lawmakers: Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ); Lucy McBath (D-GA); Lauren Underwood (D-IL); Cheri Bustos (D-IL); Abby Finkenauer (D-IA); Dave Loebsack (D-IA); Cindy Axne (D-IA); Jared Golden (D-Maine); Elissa Slotkin (D-MI); Haley Stevens (D-MI); Angie Craig (D-MN); Collin Peterson (D-MN); Susie Lee (D-NV); Chris Pappas (D-NH); Jefferson Van Drew (D-NJ); Andy Kim (D-NJ); Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ); Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ); Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM); Max Rose (D-NY); Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY); Antonio Delgado (D-NY); Anthony Brindisi (D-NY); Kendra Horn (D-OK); Matt Cartwright (D-PA); Conor Lamb (D-PA); Joe Cunningham (D-SC); Ben McAdams (D-UT); Elaine Luria (D-VA); Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Ron Kind (D-WI).

Swing state voters are pressuring House lawmakers to produce legislation on trade, immigration, healthcare, and funding the government beyond Dec. 20.  They will have to act fast to prevent a shutdown just days before Christmas, or  repeat another record-long partial government closure like the one that started on Dec. 22, 2018 while balancing their top priority — impeachment.