Some Democratic leaders around the country are growing increasingly concerned that the party could be repeating its errors from the 2016 election by looking past voters' core concerns in lawmakers' eagerness to take aim at the president.
"We're obsessed with what's happening here, and a lot of American people are worried about that," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told NBC News during an interview in D.C. this week. "But if you're out of a job or struggling with debt, you've got more primary concerns than even all of the drama here in Washington. And if nobody is speaking to it, besides this president, you're going to stick with him. You just are. Even through this stuff."
Some Democrats — especially those outside Washington, who are closer to their constituents and more removed from the Beltway — warn most voters are too busy leading their lives to pay attention to the ins and outs of the Russia investigations or the controversy du jour in the capital and are more responsive to bread-and-butter issues than the possible but unlikely impeachment of the president.
Since the election, Democrats have latched on to countless, sometimes conflicting, explanations for why Clinton lost. But one that has gained traction across is she spent too much time prosecuting Trump's temperament and not enough selling her ability to help people. A study published after the election by the Wesleyan Media Project found Clinton's campaign aired far fewer policy-focused TV ads than any other presidential campaign since 2000 — including Trump's.
As investigative bombshells drop, more of her colleagues have stepped up to grab their own moment in the spotlight by dropping "the I-word."
But many Democrats privately worry that lawmakers and outside groups demanding impeachment are making a quick buck in a way that could ultimately be counterproductive for the party.
"There is increasing concern for a lot of us that jumping to impeachment talk before the facts are there and the American public are ready for it is a gift to Trump," said one Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.
"No matter how much it can get you on cable TV or raise you money on the internet," the strategist continued, "flipping to the last chapter of the spy novel before reading the book will undermine the damage this investigation is going to do to Trump by making the American people see it as political and prejudged."