Latest Polls Of Iowa And Texas Voters NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks with Ann Selzer, a pollster in Iowa, and Abby Livingston of the Texas Tribune, about how people in Iowa and Texas are responding to the politics in Washington.
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Latest Polls Of Iowa And Texas Voters

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Latest Polls Of Iowa And Texas Voters

Latest Polls Of Iowa And Texas Voters

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The concern on Capitol Hill is that impeachment is going to take up all the oxygen in the room. But it's a big country with lots of room. So let's go now to Iowa, where Ann Selzer is a veteran pollster. She's in Des Moines.

Thank you so much for being on the program today.

ANN SELZER: Happy to be here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And to Texas, Abby Livingston is the Washington bureau chief for The Texas Tribune. She is in Austin right now this weekend.

Abby, welcome to you.

ABBY LIVINGSTON: Glad to be on the show.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ann, I am going to start with you because we're already seeing polls on what people think about impeachment, even though it's only been a couple of days since the formal announcement of the inquiry. As a pollster, what are you seeing there? What's the reaction to the numbers?

SELZER: What I'm hearing as I listen to people is that there's a certain amount of - if I say shock and awe, it's kind of in the literal sense - like, frozen in place, waiting for this issue to be framed. You know, there's a whole bunch of new vocabulary for people to learn, new points of law never addressed on any of the "Law & Order" franchises.

One of the things we found in our most recent poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers - so these are activist Democrats that are evaluating the field of candidates - was that we found when we paired takes positions that move the country to the left versus takes position that seek to find common ground with Republicans, it's that latter that, by about a 2 to 1 margin, people said they wanted in a leader - 63%.

So that sort of is ringing in my ears as I listen to things and watch the candidates who are in a precarious position out on the campaign trail to figure out how to position themselves as a leader in these times when so many things are changing. I don't know how many of them will feel that what they want to do is find common ground with Republicans right now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Abby, what's your take? I mean, do you see anything in Texas that makes you think public opinion is shifting?

LIVINGSTON: What's been fascinating from a polling perspective is - and I use this term in my story - these were Democratic freshmen who are in vulnerable districts who have come out for impeachment. They are flying blind. This started to snowball Sunday afternoon. It really started to blow up in - Monday night, and then we had a cascade of freshmen come out for impeachment on Tuesday. And so this isn't quick enough to do any polling.

And so this has been sort of a thing that I think comes from true conviction. And you can see it in their language and there's - you can see very little focus-tested verbiage coming out of these folks. And so it's been quite something to watch.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ann, the Iowa caucuses are four months away. And one of the leading contenders there is, fairly or not, a main character in this impeachment story. Of course, I'm talking about President Trump's constant deflections to Joe Biden. And I'm wondering, will that hurt Biden's support in the caucuses?

SELZER: He has already come in second place in our most recent poll. His lead was always, from a polling standpoint, a little shaky. The underpinnings of it were not strong. And so for the first time, we showed Elizabeth Warren leading among our likely caucusgoers. And so this is either an opportunity to rise and perform in a particular way or, it is - it will be his undoing if he cannot get a handle on it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Abby, I want to talk about Senator John Cornyn in Texas because, of course, he's up for election. Some Democrats see an opportunity there. What has been his posture with this impeachment drama?

LIVINGSTON: He's been increasingly defensive of the president, and at some times, it's been sarcastic. It's worth noting he is on the Judiciary Committee. He's one of the senior-most members. He's also on the Senate Intelligence Committee. So if this thing goes into hearings and - as an attorney, I am guessing if we have some sort of trial, he's going to be in the middle of it. He's also very close to leadership.

There is optimism coming out of 2018 that this seat is in play on the Democratic side. I remain agnostic on this. Cornyn is a very different candidate from Ted Cruz. He's very unpredictable, and he elicits less passion against him and for him. And so the other - there is an open field of Democratic candidates, and it remains very unclear who that nominee will be and if that person has the kind of, I guess, mojo that Beto O'Rourke had last cycle.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Already, we were going into an election cycle that was going to be full of drama, full of unpredictability. And now, enter impeachment. How big do you think this is going to be playing when voters come to decide what is going to happen in 2020? Ann, let's start with you.

SELZER: Well, you know, what I'm hearing as I'm watching the news coverage of it on Fox and MSNBC is more measured than I expected to hear today. So I think it would be presumptuous to say how this is all going to fall out. I feel like this is certainly a case where anybody expecting they could say something today that would stick into the future might be deceiving themselves.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And yet, here we have you.

I will give you, Abby, the last word.

LIVINGSTON: Well, I would just say the only people who seemed really excited and sure of things when this started to unfold earlier this week were a bunch of Texas Republicans. And in particular, they were hammering a congresswoman named Lizzie Fletcher in West Houston. And one of her potential opponents actually put out a robocall that said - he said, I'm with Donald Trump. So they seem to be making an issue of it. But like everything else in this era, it is a year and a month from now, so who knows?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Indeed. Abby Livingston is the Washington bureau chief for The Texas Tribune. Ann Selzer runs the Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll. Thank you both for joining us.

LIVINGSTON: Thanks for having me.

SELZER: It's been a pleasure.

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