Suddenly, everything is impeachy

by Tom Edelson

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For someone who has already mouthed off about impeaching Donald Trump as much as I have, I am myself surprised at how little I feel like talking about it now.  Yes, I do want to be on record as favoring this newly declared "formal impeachment inquiry" (does the "formal" part mean top hat, white tie, and tails?).  But I haven't felt much enthusiasm for explaining why.

Let me do this, though: give you a peek into my crystal ball as to how I think things are likely to play out.

Impeachment itself: yes, more likely than not, the House will vote to impeach that bad boy.

Removal: will the Senate vote, with a 2/3 majority, to "convict" him, and thereby effectuate his removal from office?  This is harder to judge.  I guess, if I were forced to predict, one way or the other, I would say "no."

The conventional wisdom, however, seems to be that they certainly will not.  I think this degree of confidence (if that's the right word for it) is highly misplaced.

But let's assume that they don't, and further assume that this means that the 2020 general election will go forward with Trump as the Republican nominee.  Will he win?

I don't think so.  I make no claim to certainty about this, nor do I think I can meaningfully estimate a numerical probability.  But here's a question I do want to answer: will he be more likely to win, or less so, because of having gone through the impeachment process?

Less so, I think.  Having seen President Trump be impeached, and having seen however the Senate responds to that, will (I claim) make the electorate more likely to vote him out.

Of course, I make no claim to certainty about this, either.  It seems worth mentioning partly because once again, I think I am going against the conventional wisdom: that the consensus of the chattering class seems to be that impeachment, followed by acquittal in the Senate, would help him at the polls.

Oddly, those making this prediction have generally, in my experience, not said much about why they believe it to be so.  The only explanation that I can recall is this: the impeachment process will get Trump's supporters "more fired up" about re-electing him.

But will it?  I think that depends on which "Trump supporters" you are talking about.  For the really hard-core, "base" supporters, this prediction does, indeed, seem plausible to me.

But remember: no matter how fired up someone is, he or she only has one vote.

That being the case, it seems to be more relevant to ask, instead, about the effect on a different group: those who voted for Trump in 2016, but were not, and have not become, passionate true believers in his cause.  For that group of "supporters," my prediction is that the impeachment experience will probably reduce the number of them who will vote for him again.

It is also worth noting that impeachment's effect on the election results might not be so very big, one way or the other.

So I guess I have, sort of, said something about why I see the recent impeachment developments in a positive light: why I approve of the House Democrats' long-delayed decision to formalize their relationship with Mr. Trump.  At least, what I have said could be taken to imply an attempted rebuttal of the claim that "Impeachment may be justified, but it's political suicide."

What do you think?

This page created: 2019-09-30

This page last modified: 2019-09-30

© Copyright 2019 by Tom Edelson.