Democrats Have to Impeach, Right? Why They're Afraid To

Thoughts on why House Democrats won't pull the trigger on impeachment

Publisher’s Riff

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by Charles Ellison | #RealityCheck | @ellisonreport

It’s frustrating, right? It was just about 20 years ago that President Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for much much less, for acts pretty much non-criminal and that literally pale in comparison to fairly treasonous acts described in (even) the redacted Mueller Report.

Yet, here are several reasons Democrats remain hesitant about pulling the trigger …

You Need The Senate to Finish The Job - But, The Votes Aren’t There

After months of pundits and commentators giving the impression - through omission - that impeachment alone was the complete process, Democrats now want to frantically acknowledge that they need the votes in the Senate to convict. This wasn’t much of a concern just months ago. It was either lazily or deliberately left out of now years of conversation concerning the impeachment of Donald Trump. Used as a go-to rallying cry against the president, most Americans didn’t seem aware of the Part II Senate-conviction portion.

Now, suddenly, establishment and thought-leader Democrats are quick to inject that the votes for a Senate conviction, and, therefore, a removal of Trump from office are not there because Republicans are in full charge of the Senate. That majority, plus the number of reluctant Senate Democrats who are in so-called “red states,” removes the possibility of two-thirds of the Senate voting to remove the president.

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Americans Aren’t Sure They Want This

Here’s a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll showing a slight majority against impeachment

Reuters/Ipsos shows something similar …

And a CNN poll from a month ago doesn’t show much changing …

Trump Approvals Are Always Low, But They’re Solid …

Don’t pay too much attention to headlines like “Trump’s Approval Ratings Take a Hit” or “Mueller Report Hits Trump Approval Ratings.” When all those polls are aggregated and averaged up, this is what we’ll need to pay attention to …

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His Approval Ratings in Critical “Swing” States is Also Steady

Democrats will be giving careful attention to states such as MI, OH, PA and WI that helped him clinch victory. Right now, according to regular tracking by Morning Consult, his net approvals have dropped, but his overall approval rating (the bottom line) has never dropped below 40 percent since he took office …

Here’s Michigan …

Here’s Ohio …

Here’s Pennsylvania …

Here’s Wisconsin …

Would Democrats Even Have Enough Votes to Impeach in the House?

Democrats are holding on to 31 seats held or won by Trump in 2016. The question is if that, as well as somewhat red districts won by Clinton, too, creates an issue during an impeachment vote. Even though a simple majority is needed, there’s always that possibility, especially when considering Republicans are so effective at carpet-bombing messaging. Tough anti-impeachment campaigns could be unleashed in Congressional districts that are tenuously held on by Democrats.

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Can Democrats Rely on Their Base in 2020?

Democrats are worried that their 2019 impeachment vote will result in the kind of electoral setbacks, and perhaps even worse, that Republicans experienced in 1998 after their year-long impeachment fiasco. Democrats shouldn’t worry since the 2020 election is still far off.

But, they know Republicans are very skilled at drilling a message so hard that most voters either believe it or are manipulated into fatigue from it. If they go through with this, they need to know that their base is as solid behind them as Republicans can depend on their base. Based on the 2016 experience, they’re not so sure of that. That outcome was not so much a result of Trump outmaneuvering Clinton, but of so many traditionally Democratic Party voters - from jaded Bernie supporters to Black voters - tapping out of the election. Hence, Democrats didn’t have enough of their own base voters in key states to offset voters who were flipping to Trump. Democrats are wondering: if we go through all of this, will all of our people be out there with us in 2020? They need the answer to that question, but it’s still uncertain.