Democrats Are Now Losing Their Own Voters' Interest in Impeachment Inquiry
This was when impeachment-mania was supposed to be picking up steam.
The private hearings were over. We’d been told in grave tones by House Democrats that the evidence given was nothing short of a galling indictment of the president and the unlawful pressure tactics his administration put on Ukraine’s new government.
We were ushered into the public phase where a lot of the same witnesses were brought out to talk about a lot of the same things that had been leaked from the committee; an obeisant media assured us that, yes, this was every bit as grave as the tone used by Democrats assured us it was.
Now we were talking about a vote on impeachment — which was interesting considering the inquiry hadn’t actually ended or anything but when you’re dealing with stuff this grave it deserves the gravity of, you know, coming to a decision before you hear all the evidence.
So a funny thing happened on the way to passing the impeachment torch on to the Senate.
Polls briefly showed Republicans more interested in impeachment than they’d previously been. That spike, according to FiveThirtyEight’s impeachment poll aggregator, had mostly evaporated.
This wasn’t worrying. Republican disinterest probably wasn’t going to last. More worrying, however, was the fact that independents were losing interest in impeachment, as well, with numbers down significantly from their highs.
All right, but surely Democrats were interested in impeaching Trump, right? I mean, there are Democrats who thought he should have been impeached the day he took office. Now, by jove, they’ve got him on something, right? And it’s all being televised!
So yes, about that.
“Democratic voters appear to be losing interest in House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump, according to a new Hill-HarrisX poll released on Monday,” The Hill reported.
“The number of Democratic voters who say they are paying close attention to the impeachment inquiry fell 5 percentage points to 73 percent in the latest nationwide survey.
“The amount of independent and GOP voters who are keeping an eye on impeachment also saw a decrease. Fifty-nine percent of independent voters said they are paying attention to the inquiry, while 64 percent of Republicans say the same,” the report continued.
“After holding steady at 70 percent in the past two surveys, the overall number of voters who said they are following the probe fell for the first time to 65 percent.”
Now, here’s the worrying thing: This was the first poll taken by Hill-HarrisX after the hearings started being held in public.
It also coincides with a loss of support for Democrats when it comes to impeachment generally in the FiveThirtyEight average, although the number remains unsurprisingly high. From a peak of 84.8 percent of Democrats on Oct. 15, it’s now dropped to 82.4 percent. Before a recent uptick in the total, it had been as low as 80.3 percent on Monday.
That’s still a high number, but the question is how many of those Democrats are truly engaged?
Perhaps the most telling thing is the television ratings. While Fox News has been doing swimmingly during the hearings — it’s been their highest-rated period in 2019, according to NPR — the viewership numbers are way down from testimony given by figures like former FBI Director James Comey or former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, according to Business Insider.
Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings drew 20 million viewers. Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017 garnered 19.6 million viewers. Even Michael Cohen’s appearance on Capitol Hill induced 16 million people to watch.
The first day of the impeachment inquiry? Only 13 million viewers. That was even with Robert Mueller’s appearance before Congress to explain a report everyone knew the details of anyway. This is the first salvo in an inquiry designed to end in impeachment — and it drew even with that.
The Democrats think they can sustain this for another year until the election. With this level of interest, they’ll be lucky if they sustain this until the first primaries.
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