Dec 15, 2019

America's interest in impeachment fades

Data: NewsWhip. Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: NewsWhip. Chart: Axios Visuals

The level of readers' engagement on stories about impeachment has steeply declined since September, according to data from NewsWhip.

Why it matters: This trend indicates that while plenty of attention is being paid to the impeachment saga, it doesn't draw the same level of emotion and enthusiasm that we saw in September.

Between the lines: Of the 10 biggest stories about impeachment since Sept. 16 — as measured by interactions on each story, such as likes, comments and shares — none have posted after Nov. 15, a sign that the intensity of the debate has died down over the last month.

Of the top 30 stories, only four have been posted after Nov. 15.

  • Public interest hit its apex when the case against Trump was building and news cycles were driven by new revelations about Trump, Ukraine and the characters involved.
  • After two weeks of public testimony in mid-November, the national conversation shifted from the accumulation of evidence to debate over whether that evidence was sufficient for impeachment and conviction.

That shift highlights a key dynamic: In an era of extreme polarization, facts must be addressed by both sides, but arguments and interpretations fall into predictable patterns of partisanship where each side will shut out the other.

By the numbers: The top news articles about impeachment, by interactions, per NewsWhip data:

  1. House Democrats now have enough votes to impeach Donald Trump (PoliticusUSA) — 2.45 million interactions
  2. Franklin Graham calls on nation to pray for Trump as impeachment effort gains speed (Washington Times) — 1.55 million
  3. Adam Schiff is wasting the nation’s time with impeachment hearings — (New York Post) — 1.50 million
  4. Pelosi announces impeachment inquiry, says Trump’s courting of foreign political help is a "betrayal of national security" (Washington Post) — 1.07 million
  5. Pelosi to announce formal impeachment inquiry of Trump (NBC News) — 744k

Between the lines: While average interactions on impeachment stories have fallen over the last three months, total interactions have been up and down, depending on the news cycle.

  • This data shows that while interest builds when the news cycle heats up and more stories are written, average interactions have been on a sustained decline.

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