Distraction, unease, exhaustion — these were some of the main takeaways from our Engagious/FPG focus group last week.
- We heard from 8 voters who flipped from Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016, and 3 who switched from Mitt Romney to Hillary Clinton.
- The findings are a counterpoint to the latest national surveys — including a Fox News poll — that show more and more Americans, perhaps even a majority, now favor impeaching and removing Trump.
- While a focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, these responses show how some voters are thinking and talking about the 2020 election in crucial counties.
The big picture: 9 of the 11 participants raised their hands to say impeachment is a distraction from the issues they care most about — things like wages and unemployment, border security, bringing troops home, and health care costs and access.
- Brad P., a 40-year-old Trump voter, summed it up as “a never-ending drama” that “shows to me these people are completely out of touch with everyday Americans’ lives.”
- A couple of people doubted that Trump asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden; others didn’t think it warrants impeachment if he did. “Is there undeniable proof?” asked one man.
- When asked how impeachment made them feel, these voters offered things like “concerned,” “uneasy,” “exhausted,” “sad that they’re [Democrats] so focused on it,” and “a big distraction from what we could be doing.”
- One person, Lisa A., who was a Clinton voter, didn’t think it was a great idea but said, “I believe in the checks and balances” and “I’m not scared of the process.”
Why Ohio matters: Trump won the state in 2016 by over 450,000 votes; he lost Mahoning County, where the focus group was held, by less than 4,000 votes.
What they’re saying: Participants shared their thoughts about the Democrats. “They need to focus on the real issues,” said Judy D., a 60-year-old Trump voter. “[Nancy] Pelosi hates him so bad, I just think she needs to drop it and worry about the country.”
- “They need to be concentrating on the country, not what he’s doing wrong,” Deborah G., a 56-year-old Clinton voter, said.
- “They hit a big strike on Mueller, so this is trying to get another base hit on the president,” said Eric B., a 34-year-old Trump voter.
- “It’s become more of … ‘Destroy the other party’ instead of build the whole country up,” said Richelle W., a 40-year-old Trump voter.
Before getting serious about impeachment, House Democrats worried the timing was too close to the 2020 election and could backfire at the polls.
- One man, Rocco P., a 40-year-old Trump voter, offered this advice to Democrats: “Just drop it. Beat Trump at the ballot box.”
Between the lines: Harboring anti-impeachment feelings doesn’t necessarily translate to a vote for Trump in 2020. Only four of the participants said they will definitely vote for Trump again; one former Trump voter said he will vote for Andrew Yang; one Clinton voter, Lisa A., said she’s leaning toward Elizabeth Warren; and the rest are undecided.