News & Politics

Democrats Used Focus Groups to Tweak Impeachment Messaging

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks to reporters on the morning after the first public hearing in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump on his effort to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Pelosi says the president's actions in the impeachment inquiry amount to "bribery." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

For all their grandstanding about protecting “our democracy” or that “no one is above the law,” or — as Nancy Pelosi claimed Thursday — that impeachment “is about patriotism. It’s not about politics,” it turns out impeachment is actually about polling.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that “Democrats have stopped using the term ‘quid pro quo,’ instead describing ‘bribery’ as a more direct summation of Trump’s alleged conduct.” Why the change, you ask? It turns out the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran focus groups in battleground states in order to determine the most effective messaging.

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.

So, here’s what’s happening: Democrats are essentially deciding what to accuse President Trump of doing based on polling in key battleground areas. Apparently Trump’s crimes aren’t clear enough Democrats need to run focus groups to figure out what language has the strongest impact. Because this isn’t about politics, it’s about patriotism… or something.


Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis