As the historic impeachment trial of President Donald Trump continues to captivate Washington, the long-term political ramifications remain a big question mark. And in Colorado, it may be too early to tell what’s resonated with voters or how much they’ve paid attention to the proceedings.
Kristen Brumley is in an unusual position. She’s been out of the country volunteering for a nonprofit in Mexico for the last six months — and hasn’t followed any of it.
“I don't have an opinion right now. I really want to get good factual information before I make my decision,” Brumley said on the question of whether Trump should be removed from office.
In the week she’s been back home in Denver she’s reached out to friends and family to get up to speed, but it hasn’t been helpful. She’s an unaffiliated voter with a conservative family and liberal friends.
“My friends and close family are extremely on polar opposites and so it's really hard for me to get an unbiased, just information — good things, bad things, everything.”
Ultimately Brumley doesn’t expect whatever she learns to impact her vote in November. She didn’t back Trump in 2016, and doesn’t expect to in 2020. For her, international relations are a top issue.
“Also honesty and integrity are really important for a candidate for me,” Brumley said. “And I don't see that in him. I haven't seen that.”
Colorado Public Radio asked a handful of other voters with a variety of political views to weigh in Wednesday, as the Senate began to ask questions of the impeachment managers and White House lawyers.
Trump voter Johnell Howard lives in Lakewood and considers himself a political moderate. He works at McDonald’s and in construction and said the trial will absolutely impact his vote. He backed Barack Obama twice and said he’s paying attention to impeachment and if Democrats make a strong case against the president he’s open to flipping his vote and supporting a Democrat like Joe Biden.
“I'm still waiting to see. I'm still waiting to see,” Howard said. “It's still like a 50-50, you know.”
He reads news updates that pop up on his cell phone and he watches CNN a lot. If the evidence isn’t there, he’ll stick with Trump.
“He talked a good game,” Howard said on why he voted Trump. “He said a lot of things he was going to do and change. I mean, he did some things, but most of the things he said when he was running for president, he didn't get to yet.”
Howard pointed specifically to the need for more job opportunities. While Colorado's unemployment rate is at a record low 2.5 percent, he thinks it could be better across the country. The national unemployment rate currently sits at 3.5 percent.
Justin Conrad of Littleton has also tried to stay informed on the impeachment hearings and trial and said he’s seen a lot of misinformation on both sides. He leans Republican and plans to vote to reelect Trump unless he feels Democrats uncover a level of corruption that shows the president stood against the country. But so far, he finds the evidence lacking and feels Democrats are just digging up anything they can to use against Trump.
“There's been just a lot of reaching out, a lot of hoping that we can impeach him because they don't like him.” He said Trump has done a lot of good but no president is perfect.
“A lot of times when I talk to people, there's not as much facts, they're just like, ‘well, he did this back 20 years ago.’ OK. I don't care about 20 years ago. Everybody messes up, you know, what's he doing now? What are the stats now?”
Conrad is concerned about the U.S. getting involved with another foreign conflict, but is especially pleased with Trump’s tough stance on immigration.
“We’re struggling as a country to take care of our own people,” he said. “So taking care of other people shouldn't be our priority.”
On the opposite end of the political spectrum is Emily Alameddin, a 26-year-old registered Democrat from Golden who attends Metropolitan State University of Denver. She hasn’t followed the trial closely because her family doesn’t watch the news on TV and she doesn’t seek out the information on her own.
Protection of the environment and abortion rights are important to her, and she said whatever happens with impeachment won’t influence her vote. And questions whether the whole process has been worth the effort.
“It's just so close to November,” she said. “It feels like it's probably a waste of money and like lots of time and stuff. But I also think that if he did something wrong that we can't let it slide. We need to show people that you can't just get away with anything. So I'm a little on the fence.”
Denverite Daniel Urioste just wants Trump out of office, however it happens, either at the ballot box or removed by the Senate. Yet he’s largely tuned out impeachment because he feels like it’s a foregone conclusion that Trump will be acquitted and it has become “a circus.” He said he’s disappointed in the people he thinks enable Trump, the pettiness on all sides and the name-calling.
“It's so polarized,” Urioste lamented. “Working in the hotel business I have the lucky opportunity to meet people from all over the world. And how they view us outside of this country is something I really would like to try to repair and fix... we're supposed to be the beacon. We're supposed to be the leaders and show people how it's done. And you need to strive to be us and look how great America is, come over to us. And now it's just not like that anymore.”
Republican Sen. Cory Gardner had been eyed as a potential swing vote on impeachment but swatted that speculation away when he announced his opposition to witnesses. Gardner’s 2020 race is expected to be one of the most closely watched in the country. Most of these voters, however, say it’s not even on their radar yet.
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