Impeachment Fever Has Hit House Democrats

Over the last few weeks, more and more Democratic Members of Congress have come out in favor of impeachment hearings. According to the ShareBlue whip count, 55 currently elected Democratic House members, or nearly a quarter (23%) of their caucus, now support moving forward on impeachment. This slightly lags the 30% of Democrats who responded they wanted impeachment hearings immediately in the latest NBC/WSJ Poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates.

One of the primary motivators behind support for impeachment is the partisan lean of the district, with members from more Democratic districts more supportive of impeachment. Overall, the average share of the vote Donald Trump received in districts where Democrats are calling for impeachment has a median of 27%, while in Democratic districts where they haven’t, Trump received a median of 37% of the vote in 2016:

This likely suggests base pressure from more liberal constituents. But the makeup of the district is not the only factor in play, as the ideology of the representative plays a large part too, with over a third (36%) of the members of the left-wing Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is currently calling for an impeachment inquiry compared to only 13% of all other Democratic representatives not involved with the caucus:

Progressive Caucus member support for impeachment is not just district-driven.  Apart from districts where Trump received 42% or more of the vote, CPC members are more likely to say they support impeachment than non-members in districts with similar presidential margins. The chart below breaks down by seat count and percentage the number of members in and out of the CPC and how much of the vote Trump received and whether they support hearings. This gap is especially pronounced in the average seat range where Trump earned between 33% and 42% of the vote.

The one area that counters this trend is in the more competitive races where Trump took over 42% of the vote, and none of the 14 members of the CPC are currently supporting impeachment. The three non-caucus members who support impeachment are an eclectic bunch: Kathleen Rice, where Trump took 43.8% but usually sees large downballot Democratic wins, Tim Ryan who is running for president, and Tom Malinowski, an ex-Obama official who ran as a moderate. Members who are a part of the Progressive Caucus in competitive districts may be worried that if they come out for impeachment, it would be easy to paint them during the 2020 campaign as a radical progressive on several fronts and a poor fit for a moderate district.

Overall, impeachment support against President Trump seems to be a combination of both personal ideologies and electoral interests. The representative’s feelings matter the most in a sweet spot of a blue but not extremely blue district and seeing the gap close as electoral interests take precedence over caucus membership in very left leaning districts where a primary challenge may arise or in competitive seats where impeachment is not as popular.

Public Opinion Strategies