ICYMI: NJ.com: Focus groups say NJ Dems are in trouble

Happy Monday!

Wanted to make sure you saw this story out of New Jersey highlighting how impeachment is putting vulnerable Democrats in dire jeopardy. The Democrats held focus groups in two key districts and suffice it to say: the results were not good for the Democrats’ chance of holding these seats, or their majority.

Be sure to take a look.

In case you missed it…

Impeachment Or Not, Trump Could Hurt These N.J. Dems In 2020. And The Dems Are Saying This.
Jonathan Salant
November 24, 2019

Impeachment? Well, that’s “dominating” the Democratic agenda, and Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate a leading political rival was just politics as usual.

And these are the views of Democratic focus groups.

In New Jersey.

These groups of college-educated and non-college educated white voters in New Jersey’s 2nd and 3rd congressional districts found strong support for Trump going into an election next year where Democrats hope to retain the two House seats they won last November.

“Trump has some standing with many of these voters,” said the report conducted for House Majority Forward, a dark-money nonprofit linked to the House Democratic leadership, which assembled the focus groups.

“The core perception voters bring to the discussion of Trump is that he is a businessman, not a politician. Because he is not a politician, the standards that would apply to a politician are not applied to him.”

House Majority Forward regularly hosts focus groups, and invites more than just fellow Democrats, spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki said.

“We think it is valuable to check in with these voters from time to time, and we were not surprised to hear that some of these voters still view Donald Trump as an atypical politician,” Legacki said.

The findings indicate that 2020 might be different with Trump actually on the ballot, as compared to last November when backlash against Republican policies such as the tax law that targeted New Jersey and other high-tax states helped Democrats capture those two districts and two other GOP-held House seats in the Garden State.

The two rookie Democrats whose constituents formed the focus groups, Jeff Van Drew and Andy Kim, are rated as the most endangered New Jersey incumbents by both Washington-based publications that track congressional races, the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections.

House Majority Forward is the nonprofit arm of the House Majority PAC super political action committee, which has ties to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The nonprofit keeps its donors secret. House Republicans similarly have the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC and the American Action Network nonprofit.

“The findings by Nancy Pelosi’s dark money group make it clear as day: With President Trump driving Republican turnout, Andy Kim and Jeff Van Drew are toast,” said Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The report found few people following the House impeachment query and several actively avoiding it, though there was a sense that it was “dominating” the Democratic agenda, and a feeling that Trump’s actions were just politics as usual. In fact, no one in the focus groups brought up impeachment until asked.

“The inherent sense of corruption of all politicians allowed space for many to believe that what Trump did was commonplace, and ultimately several were ready to let Trump off the proverbial hook by characterizing the charges as ‘politics’ without digging deeper to determine if the charges are impeachable or not,” the report said.

The American Action Network is spending $300,000 on television ads attacking Kim for supporting the impeachment inquiry. And a spokesman for the affiliated Congressional Leadership Fund, Calvin Moore, said supporting impeachment will backfire.

“This is proof positive that the Democrats’ crusade to impeach Trump will have grave consequences for New Jersey Democrats,” Moore said. “Andy Kim has toed the ‘resistance’ party line every step of the way. And no amount of political posturing from Jeff Van Drew will be enough to save him when the only thing voters know is that his party is obsessed with impeachment rather than helping achieve progress on border security and trade.”

Van Drew was one of only two House Democrats nationwide to vote against an impeachment inquiry, and his comments on the issue have been noted favorably by Trump.

“I’m still monitoring it,” Van Drew said. “If something drastically changes, I would change but I would like to just like to see us go forward and have out election in the future.”

The issues most on the minds of the voters were immigration, taxes, health care, education, and national security. Men were more concerned about national security and immigration, while women focused more on education and guns.

“Those are important issues,” Van Drew said. “I think people everywhere are talking about that. I can give you a whole list of issues that are very, very important to them.”

The Democratic-controlled House has passed legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases, strengthen the Affordable Care Act, offer a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and increase education funding. All of those bills have been blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate.

“That’s what I’ve been talking about when I was running for Congress, that’s what I’m talking about why I’m here in Congress,” Kim said.

Kim’s answer to the cynicism expressed by the focus groups was his advocacy during the campaign of overhauling campaign finance laws, his leading role in House passage of legislation of major ethics legislation and his refusal to accept money from corporate PACs.

“They think Washington’s broken and they’re right,” he said. “I’m going to continue to show them I fight for them.”

Click here to read the full story at NJ.com