NBC Discovers ‘Impeachment Fatigue,’ Worried Dems in Swing States

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On Saturday, NBC’s Today show actually devoted an entire report to how voters in key swing states were suffering from “impeachment fatigue.” The segment highlighted “concerned” Democrats fearing the attempted removal of President Trump from office was “overshadowing” the 2020 campaign, while Republicans were found to be more energized heading into the election.

Traveling from one county to another in Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio over past few months, correspondent Dasha Burns witnessed voters becoming increasingly worn out and uninterested in the latest impeachment developments. “But as the hearings carried on, concerns set in even for Democratic voters,” she observed. One Democrat in Michigan told her: “I think it’s going to impact the Democratic primary more than it’s going to end up ever removing Trump from office.”

 

 

Talking to another Democratic voter in Dubuque County, Iowa, Burns wondered: “Are you concerned that all the attention surrounding the impeachment inquiry is overshadowing other issues?” The unidentified man replied: “I think that that’s what people are unfortunately paying attention to, is they think that the entire Congress is paralyzed.”

She asked of another liberal voter: “Do you think that this process is changing anyone’s mind?” He confessed: “No, I don’t think so.”

In contrast, the reporter noted: “For Republicans, impeachment has made them dig in more.” One Republican in Iowa proclaimed he was “becoming more and more of a supporter of Donald Trump, and I think a lot of people in this area are the same way.” A woman announced: “Well, the Trump supporters that I talk to are definitely more leaning towards Trump than they even ever were in 2016.”

“By the time I made it to Ashtabula County, Ohio during the House vote, fatigue had set in,” Burns explained. A woman there expressed her frustration with impeachment: “It’s a big waste of time and it was unnecessary. It’s the very epitome of what frustrates people about Washington.”

Burns concluded: “And people here want Washington to bring solutions, not more problems.”

Following the taped piece, co-host Peter Alexander questioned: “Is this sort of impeachment fatigue real right now? How’s it affecting folks at home?” Burns responded:

Yeah, I think the fatigue is real and there’s two elements here. There’s the time piece of it, this has been going on for a while. But then there’s also the circumstances in these different counties. So take a place like Ashtabula, Ohio, where they’ve seen a lot of job loss, they’ve been hit pretty hard by the opioid crisis, and so health care and mental health are really big priorities. So voters there are really focused on these day to day issues that are affecting them and they want their leaders to focus on those as well.

Fellow co-host Kristen Welker followed up: “Overall, though, how do you think impeachment actually impacts the election in November, when we get there?” Burns discounted the notion: “Yeah, I mean, look, I don’t think impeachment is going to be really the thing that moves the needle for most people. Most voters I’ve talked to, this hasn’t really changed their minds.”

The report was solid journalism, Burns simply talked to voters from both sides of aisle and revealed what she found – even though it went against the liberal media narrative of impeachment spelling political doom for Trump and Republicans. If only the segment wasn’t relegated to Saturday’s Today show and actually put on the air during the week, folded into all the impeachment special coverage.

Here is a full transcript of the January 18 report:

7:39 AM ET

KRISTEN WELKER: Next week America will witness history when the impeachment trial of President Trump gets under way. The impeachment comes, of course, during an election year. So how much have voters actually been paying attention to it?

PETER ALEXANDER: Dasha Burns from NBC News Now has been traveling the country for our 2020 series County to County. She’s been talking to voters in the places that could help decide the election.

DASHA BURNS: In Washington, it’s been 116 days of this.

DONALD TRUMP: There was no quid pro quo.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF [D-CA]: This is how a mafia boss talks.

REP. DEVIN NUNES [R-CA]: Secret depositions.

TRUMP: The call was perfect.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK [R-NY]: This is the fifth time you have interrupted.

NANCY PELOSI: Don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.

BURNS: But outside the beltway, in bellwether counties, how has it been playing with voters? My first stop was Kent County, Michigan, right as the public hearings began in November. This increasingly purple county went narrowly for Trump in 2016 and people were hooked to the hearings. How much are you paying attention to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN A [MICHIGAN VOTER]: Every day. It’s a country divided, not united, and it’s really unfortunate.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN A [MICHIGAN VOTER]: I listen to the news back and forth to work every day. I am divided, kind of, how I feel about it.

BURNS: But as the hearings carried on, concerns set in even for Democratic voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN B [MICHIGAN VOTER]: I think it’s going to impact the Democratic primary more than it’s going to end up ever removing Trump from office.

BURNS: This is Dubuque County, Iowa. In 2016, it went red for the first time since Eisenhower. Democrats know it’ll take a big lift to turn Dubuque back to blue. Are you concerned that all the attention surrounding the impeachment inquiry is overshadowing other issues?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN C [IOWA VOTER]: I think that that’s what people are unfortunately paying attention to, is they think that the entire Congress is paralyzed.

BURNS: Do you think that this process is changing anyone’s mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN D [IOWA VOTER]: No, I don’t think so.

BURNS: For Republicans, impeachment has made them dig in more. How do you think this impeachment inquiry is influencing you as a voter?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN E [IOWA VOTER]: I am becoming more and more of a supporter of Donald Trump, and I think a lot of people in this area are the same way.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B [IOWA VOTER]: Well, the Trump supporters that I talk to are definitely more leaning towards Trump than they even ever were in 2016.

BURNS: By the time I made it to Ashtabula County, Ohio during the House vote, fatigue had set in.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN C [OHIO VOTER]: It’s a big waste of time and it was unnecessary. It’s the very epitome of what frustrates people about Washington.

BURNS: Ashtabula once had a booming manufacturing industry, but much of that has disappeared. And people here want Washington to bring solutions, not more problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN F [OHIO VOTER]: I’d rather see focusing on raising the minimum wage, labor law reform, taking away what we took away from the Affordable Care Act and putting it back in again. those are issues I care about, you know? The impeachment is a process. The process is going to come and it’s going to go, but everything else is going to live on.

WELKER: So fascinating to hear from those voters. And Dasha joins us live now.  

ALEXANDER: So, Dasha, you’ve been traveling around the country for months now, have an insider’s look at what Americans think. Is this sort of impeachment fatigue real right now? How’s it affecting folks at home?

BURNS: Yeah, I think the fatigue is real and there’s two elements here. There’s the time piece of it, this has been going on for a while. But then there’s also the circumstances in these different counties. So take a place like Ashtabula, Ohio, where they’ve seen a lot of job loss, they’ve been hit pretty hard by the opioid crisis, and so health care and mental health are really big priorities. So voters there are really focused on these day to day issues that are affecting them and they want their leaders to focus on those as well.

WELKER: Overall, though, how do you think impeachment actually impacts the election in November, when we get there?

BURNS: Yeah, I mean, look, I don’t think impeachment is going to be really the thing that moves the needle for most people. Most voters I’ve talked to, this hasn’t really changed their minds. But I have run into an interesting type of voter. I encountered a couple of conflicted conservatives. And I’m talking moderate Republicans who say they don’t really recognize the current Republican Party. They’re not necessarily huge Donald Trump fans and they don’t see that the values of the Republican Party today reflecting the party that they grew up with.

So I do think there’s some opportunity for Democrats there to maybe bring some of those folks over to their side. And I don’t think impeachment is causing that conflict, but I think it’s amplifying that feeling. But ultimately I think Democrats have a lot of work to do to show voters that they’re not distracted by this and they're paying attention to things voters care about.

WELKER: Well, it is a fascinating look at some of the places that are going to decide this election. Great reporting, thanks so much, Dasha.

BURNS: Thanks so much.

WELKER: Appreciate your being here. And you can see a lot more of Dasha’s reporting on NBC News Now on any streaming device.

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