Marist on impeachment fever: Dems might need an inoculation

Alternate headline: Nancy Pelosi was right! The House Minority Leader has tried steering away from the I-word over the last year, recognizing that it might do more to motivate Donald Trump’s base to turn out more than Democratic base in the midterms. Nevertheless, others persisted, especially billionaire funder Tom Steyer, who has poured millions of dollars into a campaign that all but demands that Democrats impeach Trump if they win a majority in the House and make Pelosi Speaker again.

Actually, Pelosi was only half-right. Impeachment talk motivates Republican voters, a new Marist poll confirms, but it also demotivates as much as 30% of Democrats:

A congressional candidate’s position on whether or not to impeach President Donald Trump could be a motivating factor in this year’s midterm elections. A plurality of registered voters (47%) say they would definitely vote against a candidate for Congress who wants to impeach the president. 42% would definitely vote for a candidate who has that intent, and 10% are unsure.

Notably, three in ten Democrats say they would either definitely vote against a candidate who favors impeachment (18%) or are unsure (12%). 70% of Democrats would definitely vote for such a candidate. Among Republicans, 84% would not back a candidate seeking to impeach President Trump. A plurality of independents (47%) say the same.

“If the question of impeachment dominates the news this fall, like so many other voter concerns, it breaks along partisan lines,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “But, because nearly one-third of Democrats are not eager to open up this debate, it is one potential campaign issue that advantages the GOP.”

The 47/42 split against impeachment endorsers offers an interesting contrast to Marist’s generic congressional ballot question. Dems lead that one by five points in the other direction, 44/39. Independents lean slightly more to Democrats but are less enthusiastic, 38/32, than the general population of registered voters. When pulling out the leaners from the independent group, though, indies get much less enthusiastic and slightly Republican at 14/16. The other 70% splits evenly between undecided and refusing to vote for either.

On the specific question about impeachment, the “pure” indies break sharply against those endorsing it, 30/49. Even soft Dem leaners aren’t took keen on it at 61/25, somewhat less enthusiastic than the 70/18 for Democrats overall. Surprisingly, it’s not as popular as one might think in key Democratic regions and demos, either. In the Northeast, it only gets a 45/39; the West is a little more enthusiastic but hardly champing at the bit at 50/42. Democrats will lose the Midwest (40/49) and South (38/53) if they’re seen as teeing up an impeachment.

But that’s not the biggest turnout and enthusiasm risk revealed in the Marist poll. Most surprisingly, a quarter of African-Americans and 30% of Hispanics claim they will “definitely vote against” a candidate pushing for impeachment — a massive problem for Democrats when it comes to turnout in the fall. The more that Steyer and others push impeachment as the 2018 agenda, the more that Democrats can expect an erosion in enthusiasm and turnout.

By the way, the 44/39 result ties March for the GOP’s most favorable generic ballot result since late November’s 43/40. That appeared to be an outlier or anomaly, however, as it was sandwiched between a 51/36 and a 50/37. It confirms what Allahpundit pointed out last night — that Democratic momentum for the midterms appears to have been sapped in 2018. Impeachment may be one of big factors contributing to it, at least if Marist’s survey accurately reflects the national mood.