Focus group of Obama-Trump voters shows why Ohio could be a heavy lift for Democrats in 2020

Focus group of Obama-Trump voters shows why Ohio could be a heavy lift for Democrats in 2020

A long list of recent polls have shown growing support for an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, from a Washington Post poll showing 58% approval to a CBS News poll showing 55% approval. But in a recent focus group in Youngstown, Ohio, Axios’ Alexi McCammond reports, many Obama/Trump voters expressed negative feelings about impeachment. And the focus group shows why Ohio could be Democrats’ heaviest lift in the Rust Belt in 2020.

The focus group included 11 swing voters, eight of whom voted to reelect President Barack Obama in 2012 but voted for Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 — while three voted for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 but favored Clinton over Trump four years later. And according to McCammond, anti-impeachment feelings were common in the group.

McCammond reports that when they were asked if impeachment is a distraction from the issues they care most about — such as health care and the economy — nine out of 11 raised their hands. Judy D., a 60-year-old Trump voter, said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “hates him so bad. I just think she needs to drop it and worry about the country.” And Deborah G., a 56-year-old Clinton voter, said that Democrats “need to be concentrating on the country, not what he’s doing wrong.”

Meanwhile, Rocco P. advised Democrats, “Just drop it. Beat Trump at the ballot box.”

McCammond notes that Trump won Ohio “by over 450,000 votes” in 2016 but “lost Mahoning County, where the focus group was held, by less than 4000 votes.” And the Axios reporter explained, “While a focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, these responses show how some voters are thinking and talking about the 2020 election in crucial counties.”

In 2016, Trump won not only Ohio, but also, three other Rust Belt states that had been leaning Democratic in presidential elections: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump was the first GOP presidential candidate to win Pennsylvania since George H.W. Bush in 1988, and not since President Ronald Reagan’s landslide reelection in 1984 had Wisconsin gone Republican in a presidential race.

The 2018 midterms gave Democrats reason to be optimistic about Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., both Democrats, were reelected by double digits. But Democrats didn’t fare as well last year in Ohio, which could be the most challenging Rust Belt state for them next year.

Nonetheless, McCammond points out that out of the 11 swing voters in the Youngstown focus group, only four of them said they will definitely vote for Trump next year — and one of the Trump voters who participated is now supporting Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang.


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