Independents, swing-staters turning against impeachment

The Briefing, Vol. VII, Issue 45

This week: 

  • Polls show impeachment backfiring
  • Trump’s strong scores in swing states illustrate his path to re-election
  • Pompeo planning to run for Senate

President 2020

Impeachment backfire? Suddenly, President Trump doesn’t want a quick impeachment vote in the Senate anymore. Yes, he could benefit from the sort of quick vote that Republicans might use as a demonstration that no one is taking impeachment seriously. But he appears to prefer a drawn-out, full-blown impeachment trial. And he has a good reason for wanting as much.

It’s not just that such a trial could hilariously tie up several of the Democratic presidential candidates right around the time of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. No — Trump also wants the trial because he is watching the polls. 

Sure enough, the idea of impeaching and removing him before his first term ends is looking more and more like a loser for the impeachers. Trump is inviting impeachment, in the reasonable expectation that it willl help his re-election bid.

If you religiously watch CNN, MSNBC, or any of the big three network news broadcasts, then you are certain at this point not only of Jeffrey Epstein’s innocent friendships with multiple media personalities, but also that the evidence against Trump is more than enough to remove him. Yet the polls keep suggesting that the public feels otherwise.

In fact, this disconnect seems to be lost on America’s most important media influencers. The more impressed they become with the case for impeachment, the less impressed the public seems to become. 

According to Morning Consult, support for impeachment declined from a six-point margin in favor to a three-point margin in favor just as the most damning evidence was being presented.

The FiveThirtyEight polling average showed a swing against impeachment last week — from a four-point margin in favor to a one-point margin — just as it support for impeachment should have been growing.

Meanwhile, Emerson University released a survey showing a dramatic swing against impeachment. The overall margin has gone from four points in favor of impeachment to two points against — a six-point swing. But among independent voters, who will decide the election in 2020, the change is much more dramatic.  Whereas they had supported impeachment by a 13-point margin last month (48 to 35 percent), they now oppose it by a 15-point margin.

Wisconsin worries: But if that has Democrats up at night worried, it’s nothing compared to the Marquette Law School poll — the most respected poll of the Badger State. Trump has gone from trailing his top Democratic opponents in October to leading them — Biden, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg — by anywhere from three to eight points. And support for impeachment in Wisconsin  seems to be a leading indicator. Opposition to impeachment now leads by double-digits in the state with a net 13-point margin (53 to 40 percent), up from seven points net (51 to 44 percent) last month, before impeachment hearings had begun. 

This is a red flag for Democrats, given Wisconsin’s status as a longstanding Democratic state at the presidential level. Trump’s victory there in 2016 was viewed as a black-swan event, yet Trump now leads in the most credible poll of Wisconsin, and by significant margins, over all comers, and especially over Buttigieg (by eight points).

This leaves open the possibility that, once again, Trump will be able to sneak in and win a presidential election based on his appeal in specific states, regardless of his national unpopularity. In 2016, he made this happen with narrow victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But in 2020, he could repeat the feat with other states where he overperformed typical Republicans in 2016, such as Minnesota, Maine, and Nevada.

Democrats can only fear and regret in advance the possibility that it is their own attempt to remove him from office prematurely that is driving this unusually high level of support in polls. Had they left well enough alone, it might have been trivial to end Trump’s presidency the normal way, in an election. If the Democratic candidates’ fortunes go south from here, and if their congressional races begin to look poor after the inevitable impeachment vote, they will likely have their own choices on impeachment ot blame.

November Debate: Democrats held yet another debate featuring the top candidates. The top line result was that Buttigieg has cemented his place among the frontrunners, whereas Joe Biden’s abysmal performance — he stumbled his way into talking about “punching” domestic violence until he had knocked it out — showed that he might be near his campaign’s end. Biden’s great hope at this point lies in the South Carolina primary, but if he loses both Iowa and New Hampshire — as polls suggest he will — then he will already be irrelevant by the time South Carolina happens.

Were that debate the only consideration, Democrats would probably take Amy Klobuchar more seriously. Perhaps they will learn to do so if Biden collapses and quits the race. Her performance was excellent. She evokes a forgotten era when one could be a progressive Democrat and not nuts.

Kamala Harris, meanwhile, is done, but she’s also the last to admit it. She pathetically traded punches with Tulsi Gabbard, whose slim to non-existent chances are still better than Harris’. Elizabeth Warren performed well enough but not outstandingly. Her position cannot be clarified until Bernie Sanders passes on. Not that Sanders will literally die, but he cannot win and he only stands in the way of some other progressive candidate — probably Warren — winning by a wide margin. The other campaigns are eyeing Sanders’ support base the way people eye their rich uncle who is on the verge of death. They are all hoping to inherit what Sanders has the moment he quits.

Senate 2020

Georgia: Conservative Gov. Brian Kemp is said to be at odds with President Trump, who would like to see Rep. Doug Collins,, R, appointed to replace the retiring Sen. Johnny Isaakson, R. Kemp reportedly has ideas about appointing a conservative woman or a black senator, or someone else with more appeal to the suburban constituency that Republicans have been losing in Georgia in recent election cycles.

Kansas: Former Rep. and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly told three different Republicans that he wants to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts. It’s not at all a bad idea for the GOP. It will surely help the party retain a seat that Roberts, an absentee senator, almost lost in 2014.

Republicans learned again in 2018 that they can lose statewide races if they nominate idiots like Kris Kobach— who, having blown an easily winnable governorship last year by taking victory for granted and failing to mount a credible campaign, has amazingly thrown his losing hat back into the ring for next year’s Senate race.