You Want to Oust Trump? Reeling Democrats Focus on Plan B
Author: Greg Valliere
April 22, 2019
EVERY DEMOCRAT WE TALKED WITH this past weekend thinks Donald Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice, but they also agree that the country has little appetite for an ugly impeachment process, which could take a year or longer.
AS ONE DEMOCRAT TOLD US YESTERDAY, “If you want Trump out of office, vote him out” in the fall of 2020; this is the party’s grudging Plan B. There will be plenty of hearings — and explosive public testimony from Robert Mueller this summer — but impeachment, most party leaders believe, would simply give Trump another opportunity to demonize his accusers, which he does very, very well.
THIS DOESN’T MEAN TRUMP IS TOTALLY OFF THE HOOK: We think Trump’s most prove-able offense involves his alleged looting of the Trump Foundation, to pay for personal expenses. That, potentially, is a felony.
NEVERTHELESS, CHANCES OF A CONVICTION IN THE SENATE on any Trump offense are now close to zero; only a handful of Republicans — like Susan Collins and Mitt Romney — have any stomach for standing up to the president (even though, in private, most GOP lawmakers loathe him).
TRUMP’S POLL NUMBERS, which have slipped a few points this month, make the 2020 election a very close call, which is why the Democrats are embracing Plan B. But when your hottest candidate is the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., you have a shaky field. So here comes Joe Biden, ready to announce his candidacy this week.
WE’RE IN A MINORITY — We still think Biden is the Democrats’ front-runner, for three reasons: first, he has near universal name recognition and good will within the party; second, he has a clear lead over Bernie Sanders and other Democrats in the polls; and third, Biden has a decent chance of winning three states that Trump carried in 2016 — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
BIDEN HAS A BOAT-LOAD OF FLAWS: His past creepy caressing will always be an issue with some female voters; he’s notoriously windy and undisciplined as a speaker; and he hasn’t had a new idea in years. Ironically, those flaws are also Trump’s flaws — except Biden is reasonably likable and Trump most definitely is not.
WHAT ARE THE POST-MUELLER IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY? Trump is seething, itching for a fight even though he has dodged a potentially fatal bullet. Neither he nor the Democrats, both in full campaign mode, have any reason to cooperate on anything, whether it’s infrastructure, trade, the wall with Mexico, prescription drug pricing or the budget. The latter will be a huge brawl this autumn.
TRUMP WILL PLAY TO HIS BASE on immigration, but winning his base in 2020 will not be sufficient. He has already lost the health care debate, so Trump needs a red-hot economy a year from now. This year’s GDP pace looks surprisingly strong (we’ll get first quarter data on Friday), but the outlook for 2020 is unclear. Trump is hoping for rate cuts from the Fed, but we think the next move, perhaps by winter, could be a rate hike as the exceptionally tight labor market begins to heat up inflation and wages.
THE GREAT WILD CARD will be geopolitics, as we saw over the weekend in Sri Lanka. Then came news that Trump will tighten the screws on Iran’s exports, sending oil prices sharply higher this morning, which eventually will inflate gasoline prices as the summer driving season begins. Lots of moving parts everywhere (China trade, Brexit, etc.) but it appears that impeachment will not be one of those moving parts.
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