Democratic campaign officials had a warning for lawmakers Tuesday: Voters think they’re too focused on impeachment and instead want to hear more about their legislative agenda.
Likely voters in 57 battleground districts say the Democratic caucus’ aggressive policy agenda hasn’t broken through the noise emanating from Washington, according to polling conducted for the Democrats’ campaign arm. Rather, voters view Democrats as preoccupied by impeachment.
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The polling, which was presented during a closed-door caucus of House Democrats at their campaign headquarters near the Capitol, offers a glimpse at the Democratic campaign arm’s strategy to keep the majority — focus more on legislative priorities like healthcare, which still ranks as the top issue in these districts.
Pollsters also told lawmakers on Tuesday that voters in these districts prefer lawmakers willing to work across the aisle. In addition, they said attacks calling Democrats “socialists” have not broken through and Republicans are viewed as being “out for themselves” by a wide margin.
But some lawmakers greeted the polling with skepticism. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said the data on investigating the president was “cloudy,” showing that some voters favor vigorous probes, others view them as a “hoax,” and that there’s a large group in the middle with no prevailing opinion.
Himes, who endorsed an impeachment inquiry on Monday, said it’s this middle group that he thinks would benefit from an impeachment inquiry where facts unearthed by former special counsel Robert Mueller can be exposed publicly.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), meanwhile, said the message from the polling officials was to promote the Democratic agenda over potential distractions. “When you’re asked about impeachment, investigations and Donald Trump, you pivot quickly to what we’re doing,” Yarmuth said.
The discussion of the politics of impeachment comes as a stream of Democratic lawmakers have recently embraced calls to open an inquiry to determine whether Trump has committed high crimes or misdemeanors that warrant removal from office.
Though the majority of Democrats have yet to join those calls, the number of lawmakers backing such a move has crept steadily upward, despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attempts to redirect the caucus’ focus to the slew of investigations of Trump’s behavior and actions in office.