Support for impeachment may be on the rise, but the view from central Ohio is strikingly complicated and nuanced.
ABC News Live embarked on a 100-mile road trip through the political battleground state this week, talking to dozens of voters -- from downtown Columbus, to the purple suburbs of Westerville, to the Republican-dominant fields of Pataskala.
Nearly all of those voters showed openness to the inquiry into President Trump’s conduct with Ukraine, but few expressed a sense of outrage or urgency. In a word, the Ohio voters ABC News spoke with are cautious about impeachment.
“The facts and the truth. I want to see where it goes,” Columbus retiree and registered Democrat Judy Miller said. “I would just say continue the investigations.”
As clear a case as House Democrats might think they have, we found healthy skepticism of the politics surrounding the process; doubts about the ability of news media to fairly present the facts; and concern about the potential impact a successful impeachment vote might have.
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily a good idea or not. I don’t know if it would just cause more chaos,” said a thoughtful 17-year-old high school senior from Pataskala, who will cast a vote for the first time in 2020, and asked not to be named. “I personally don’t think [President Trump] is the best, but I don’t know right now if there would be anybody too much better.”
Many voters who spoke with ABC News seemed genuinely torn: believing it important to enforce norms and uphold principles, but also not seeing a direct stake in the president’s alleged misconduct.
“I think impeachment is important in one sense of the word, because I think it’s important how our president acts and how he conducts himself. But I also realize that there’s a lot of ways in which information is getting filtered in a bunch of different ways,” said Michael Cole, a middle-aged manager for a truck management solutions company in Columbus.
“I don’t really have time for it. So it’s like white noise in the background,” he said of the daily deluge of scandalous headlines coming out of Washington. “I don’t know who to trust anymore. That’s really the bottom line.”
Colin Gardner, an IT specialist and independent voter from Pataskala, chatted as he picked out pumpkins with his wife at Lynd Fruit Farm.
“I feel like regardless of the result of the impeachment, if we don’t have an impeachment inquiry we may have a constitutional crisis,” Gardner said.
“I’m gonna have a kid in the next month and I want him to grow up in the kind of place where leaders are held accountable for their actions,” he added, motioning to his wife who is 8 months pregnant with their first child.
We also observed near-universal Trump scandal fatigue.
“There is interest,” said Westerville Mayor Craig Treneff of his constituents’ familiarity with the impeachment push, “but when I talk to people going door to door, they’re mostly focused on local matters that affect them more directly than the national politics.”
Vickie Whaley, a dental hygienist in New Albany, said she thinks it’s all “dirty politics.” “I think that I’d let it just be fought out in the election,” she said.
“I truly believe they have been trying to impeach this man from day one,” said Todd, a pro-Trump kitchen worker at the Westerville Grill. “The truth will come out, and I hope that [Trump] prevails.”
Few of the dozens of voters ABC News spoke with could describe even the most basic, key details of President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine now at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
None could name the president of Ukraine when asked to identify him.
Anna Webber, a special education teacher in Westerville, said she supports an inquiry into Trump’s actions for the message it will send to politicians throughout government. “If we don’t follow through with this,” she said, “if they’re not accountable to the public and feel they can do whatever they want, that’s very scary.”
Madison Lovell, a 28-year-old nurse in New Albany, said she doesn’t approve of a president asking a foreign government for help investigating a rival, but considers it no worse than other Trump behavior she doesn’t like.
“I’m half for Trump because I don’t agree with some of the stuff that he does,” she said. “At the same time, there’s things I really agree with.”
ABC News' Cat McKenzie, Jon Schlosberg, Janet Weinstein and Victoria Moll Ramirez contributed to this report.