“We need to look at beating Trump, and doing so at all costs,” Ms. Jennings said.
And in Reno, Nev., April Friedman, 48, a teacher for students with special needs, said she thought the impeachment inquiry was important but wished the government would also address other more pressing issues.
“I’m in a Title I school and we have cockroaches in our trailer,” she said, referring to the law that mandates extra federal funding for schools with large concentrations of low-income students. “I know there’s a lot going on, but that’s what I’m focused on.”
When lawmakers left Washington for their home districts at the end of September, Ms. Pelosi instructed her fellow Democrats to speak about impeachment in “prayerful, respectful, solemn” tones in an effort to persuade the public that Democrats were acting out of principle, not politics. Two weeks later, it is not clear whether they have succeeded.
“I think the jury’s still out,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. For Democrats, she said, “the risk is less that voters disagree with them on impeachment and more that people will think: ‘Why are you engaged in this when my prescription drug bill has gone up, my health care is uncertain, my job doesn’t pay very well, my kid’s got student debt?’ ”
Meantime, the impeachment inquiry is barreling ahead as Democrats seek to build their case that Mr. Trump abused his power by using a security aid package and the promise of a White House visit to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Democrats including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mr. Biden’s younger son, Hunter. On Friday, Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, testified behind closed doors, telling impeachment investigators that the president had personally pushed for her ouster based on “false claims.”
During their conference call on Friday, Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who runs the party’s campaign arm, urged fellow Democrats to focus on kitchen-table issues and to speak about impeachment in “direct, simple and values-based” language, according to aides who listened to the call.