Nancy Pelosi Never Wanted This — Impeachment Has Energized the Republicans
Author: Greg Valliere
November 22, 2019
SAY WHAT YOU WILL about Nancy Pelosi, but there’s little doubt that she’s the shrewdest political analyst in the House, usually a step or two ahead on the chess board. Pelosi didn’t want to go down the impeachment path, fearful that it might backfire on the Democrats — and it appears that it has.
THE EVIDENCE IS OVERWHELMING that there was a quid pro quo by the White House on Ukrainian arms sales, and there’s a case that the president obstructed justice, but this was never going to be about the evidence. It’s about public opinion, which is beginning to turn against the Democrats.
THE OUTCOME STILL ISN’T IN DOUBT: The House will impeach (against Pelosi’s initial instincts) and the Senate will acquit. What’s astonishing is that the process may actually boost Donald Trump’s standing; his mantra that this is a “witch hunt” has gained more support, and suddenly the Republicans are energized.
PELOSI CAN COUNT VOTES better than anyone other than Mitch McConnell, and she knows that there may be zero GOP defections in the House; every Republican may vote against impeachment. And in the Senate, where we thought there could be three or four GOP defections, the final total might be zero as well.
SO WHY CONTINUE THIS EXERCISE? The Democrats want to taint Trump’s legacy with an impeachment, even if it ends with acquittal. More importantly, they want to get the evidence on the public record, hoping that it will soften up Trump ahead of the general election. But it hasn’t, not yet. In this poll-obsessed city, the key take-away is that independent voters are becoming less supportive of impeachment.
TRUMP STILL HAS PLENTY OF PROBLEMS: The Electoral College map doesn’t look quite as favorable to him than it did in 2016; key groups like college educated women are likely to turn out in large numbers to vote against him, etc. But he’s a ruthlessly effective propagandist, always twisting the truth but staying on message — and once again he’s been underestimated by the Democrats.
PELOSI FEARED THIS WOULD HAPPEN, and she preferred to spend late 2019 playing hardball on issues like the budget and re-writing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal. She has regularly out-maneuvered Trump, but she lost control of her activist base this fall; they wanted blood and she couldn’t stop them.
NOW PELOSI WILL HAVE TO ENDURE a post-Thanksgiving spin storm as the House nears a final impeachment vote before Christmas. We wrote earlier this month that this process would be a waste of time, but actually it’s even worse for the Democrats: it’s looking like a political failure that keeps alive Trump’s chances for a second term.
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