The first two days of impeachment hearings haven’t gone well for Democrats. One of the tells is how not even they can come together on the reason for impeachment (see Nancy Pelosi Says Trump’s Impeachment is About ‘Patriotism’ and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Basically Admits Impeachment is About Preventing Trump’s Re-election). So much so, they changed the impeachment charge based on recent internal polling of battleground states.
Several Democrats have stopped using the term “quid pro quo,” instead describing “bribery” as a more direct summation of Trump’s alleged conduct.
The shift came after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee conducted focus groups in key House battlegrounds in recent weeks, testing messages related to impeachment. Among the questions put to participants was whether “quid pro quo,” “extortion” or “bribery” was a more compelling description of Trump’s conduct.
According to two people familiar with the results, which circulated among Democrats this week, the focus groups found “bribery” to be most damning. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the results have not been made public.
Obviously messaging matters. The reason the Clinton charges were so easy to stick was that they were clear. He lied under oath. Plus for good measure, there was a blow job involved. Easy to understand. The Trump charges are more convoluted. Was there a clear crime committed? Did Trump do something that, while maybe perceived as shady, wasn’t illegal? Not to mention the “yeah, but they all do it” cynicism factor has grown exponentially over the past twenty-two years.
But while messaging matters… let’s cut the bullshit that this isn’t political. No, Nancy Pelosi, it’s not patriotism. No one in the Democrat Party has a heavy heart that they have to do this. When they’ve literally been talking about doing this since a few days after Trump was elected.
“Oh, but we really got him this time!” If that was true, messaging wouldn’t matter. If impeachment wasn’t political, focus groups on “how should we spin this to our voting base” wouldn’t factor.
Yet it does.