The Democrats' impeachment inquiry may have done more good than harm for Donald Trump's 2020 bid for reelection
Donald Trump’s potential impeachment is finally coming to a close now that Democrats have announced their formal charges against the President.
The charges include using his power in office for personal gain as well as obstructing Congress by refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. Whether the president is guilty or not is probably inconsequential, though, because when it comes down to a vote—he’s unlikely to be thrown out of office.
The first phase of impeaching Donald Trump would be a breeze for the Democrats. The House of Representatives first needs to pass the articles of impeachment. That’s a likely victory as the House is controlled by Democrats, most of which are in support of impeachment.
Next, the Senate would vote to convict the president, thus throwing him out of office. That part will be a challenge, though, as the Senate is Republican-controlled. Democrats would need a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, to send Trump packing. Based on what U.S. senators have said so far, there’s a chance of 50 votes to convict, but even that would be a stretch.
So why do the Democrats even bother? There are a few reasons. The first is impeachment. While the Senate is Republican-controlled and the majority of Senators have been against impeachment, that doesn’t mean they won’t vote to convict. There’s a slim chance that some are keeping quiet about their decision and would unexpectedly switch sides House of Cards-style.
The next is political. Democrats insist the impeachment inquiry wasn’t politically motivated, but Trump and his allies say it absolutely was. There’s probably truth to both sides, but from a political standpoint, the impeachment inquiry could backfire horribly if Trump remains in office.
If the Democrats’ goal was to make Trump look bad ahead of the 2020 election, they may have failed miserably.
Trump’s Republican supporters have been unfazed by the inquiry. His approval rating has been constant throughout the process, indicating that nothing exposed during the impeachment proceedings has shaken his support base.
Even more concerning for Democrats in 2020, the impeachment inquiry has actually helped support for trump in key states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Polls show that Trump’s lead over Biden in those states increased substantially over the past three months. New York Times-Siena College polls from mid-October show that the majority of voters in Florida, North Carolina and Arizona also oppose impeachment.
Another troubling statistic comes from Washington Post polls, which show that support for and against impeaching Donald Trump remained constant from the moment the time the inquiry began to its conclusion. That suggests people don’t care about what the Democrats revealed— if they liked Trump before, they still like him now.
The impeachment inquiry has actually helped Trump raise campaign money as he pits his supporters against the Democrats using targeted language like scam and witch hunt. When Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry, Trump shelled out $1.8 million for Facebook ads. Within 72 hours of the announcement, he’d already raised $15 million in donations.
In 2016, Trump was able to vilify Hillary Clinton and establishment politics and his promise to “drain the swamp” got him elected. The 2020 election is shaping up to offer more of the same— Trump can vilify the entire Democrat party with the ammunition of a failed impeachment attempt. Republican strategist Jack Kingston said Democrats are,
kind of like [a] 4-year-old in the schoolyard saying ‘blah, blah, blah. I don’t want to hear it. I’m going to go after impeachment.
That kind of rhetoric will likely play a role in Trump’s efforts to tear down his opponents in 2020.
This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:41 PM UTC