Impeachment Unlikely To Impact Local Election Results In 2020

Signs outside a polling place in Cleveland Heights.
Ongoing impeachment proceedings may not have much of an impact on the local level in 2020 elections. [Annie Wu / ideastream]
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Ongoing impeachment proceedings in Washington, D.C., may not have much of an impact on the local level in 2020 elections, even as House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Tuesday.

The impeachment process hasn’t changed many minds, in Northeast Ohio or elsewhere, said Baldwin Wallace University Political Science Professor Tom Sutton.

“People who already have partisan positions related to President Trump, for or against, are holding to those positions,” he said. “We’re really not seeing any change.”

And as far as local elections go, he said those partisan views don’t have much impact.

“The local issues really are separate and, in most cases, technically nonpartisan by comparison to a national partisan election for the White House,” he said.

Local political groups want to engage with the impeachment process by capitalizing on it as motivation for voters to turn out at the polls in 2020.

Impeachment may increase voter turnout, but the results of the election are determined by the beliefs of the community, Sutton said.

“A community that tends to lean more toward supporting government funding for issues, an uptick might mean more support for, say, an increased tax levy,” he said.

Bob Bodi, president of the Westlake Republicans club, said impeachment has been part of the conversation at meetings and attendees have unanimously dismissed claims that Trump engaged in any impeachable offenses.

But his organization wants to focus on connecting residents with information about local issues, he said.

“Our job is to say, ‘look, politics isn’t just about the president.’ We’ve got local concerns, and in fact, the local concerns are much more impactful on daily life,” Bodi said.

The 2020 ballot won’t feature many highly contested races, which will make it difficult to encourage voter participation, Bodi said.

“Getting people to pay attention to the judges running can be difficult. Whether it’ll help that, I don’t know,” Bodi said, though he does think Beltway politics will help get the Republican base out to the polls next year.

Westlake Democratic Club President Vern Long says he hopes national politics will motivate all voters to go to the polls.

“It’s a voluntary exercise, and we prove that every election day. Our voting percentage is terribly low,” he said.

While Ohio won’t have many seats up for grabs, he’s expecting impeachment to be a talking point during much of the election cycle, Long said.

“I think it’s going to come out, it’s going to be a real campaign issue because of either resentment from either side or from downright hatred,” he said.

Mayfield Heights Republican Club President Richard Eisenberg says for some, the impeachment process has been a motivator to engage with politics at a local and national level.

“I do talk to people otherwise, and it seems a lot of people are turned off and it’s ‘What’s the use?’” he said.

He said the struggle will be getting voters to turn out for primary elections, which generally see lower numbers than Election Day in November.

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