Democrats in Congress want to impeach Donald Trump, because it’s the right thing to do. He’s committed serious crimes against the nation, and he needs to answer for them. That said, the Democrats can only realistically move forward with impeachment if they can safely conclude that it’s not going to backfire and improve Trump’s odds in 2020. In that regard, the Democrats just got some great news.
With their actions more than their words, House Democrats have made their strategy clear. They’re going to spend the next month holding a de facto first round of impeachment hearings, with the likes of Robert Mueller and Don McGahn, without calling it “impeachment.” Once Trump’s crimes have been force fed to the American public on live national television, we’ll see how much demand for impeachment it creates.
Right now, about 40% of Americans want impeachment, according to various polls. After these hearings, that number should be much higher. In the meantime, a different set of numbers makes clear that impeachment is going to end up being a winning issue for the Democrats. The various 2020 Democratic candidates for president have each had to take a position on impeachment over the past couple weeks. Now we have data on what the public thinks of those various positions.
The new Quinnipiac poll reveals that Elizabeth Warren, who got a lot of attention for being the first major candidate to call for impeaching Donald Trump, has been rewarded with a five point bump. Joe Biden, who kicked off his campaign by hitting Trump in the hardest way possible, got a twelve point bump. In that same poll, Bernie Sanders, who has spent the past couple weeks largely trying to downplay impeachment as not being a priority, has dropped by seven points.
It’s still very early, and candidates can still easily shift their positions on impeachment. But the point is that voters are responding to candidates who are throwing their weight behind impeachment. With these numbers playing out the way they are, it wasn’t surprising to see Biden begin using the word “impeachment” today as part of his argument against Trump. We won’t be shocked if Sanders and other candidates end up coming out for impeachment as well, as it’s clearly a winning issue.
The Democratic primary race will sort itself out one way or the other. For now the upshot is that the candidates who are going in on impeaching Donald Trump are being rewarded for it by the public. This tells us a lot about how the American public is going to view impeachment once this next month’s worth of Mueller report hearings plays out. In turn that tells us that the odds of impeachment happening are a lot higher than we thought they were.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report