Democrats’ drive to impeach and remove President Trump was destined to fail. But more than fail, it has backfired on them — strengthening Trump for the 2020 campaign and increasing his odds of winning a second term.
First, impeachment appears to have raised Trump’s approval rating to the highest point of his presidency. In mid-October, just before the House impeachment hearings began, Trump’s Gallup approval rating was just 39% — a few points above his all-time low.
This week, as his Senate trial wound up, Gallup reported that Trump’s approval has risen a 10 full points to 49% — his all-time personal best. The number of Americans who want Trump removed has plummeted.
In October, a 52% majority of Americans supported his removal, today a 52% majority opposes it. For Democrats, this is the very definition of failure.
Far from advancing their case for removing Trump, Democrats have convinced more Americans that he deserves a second term. Before the 2018 midterms that put Democrats in control of the House, just 41% of the country said Trump should be reelected; today, after the Democratic House’s failed impeachment effort, 50% want to give him four more years. Since impeachment began, Trump’s standing with the voters has improved by almost every measure.
Second, impeachment has energized Trump’s base. According to Gallup, the president’s approval among Republicans is now a record 94% — up six percentage points since January. The more Democrats tried to take him down, the more Republicans have united behind the president.
Third, the failure of their impeachment drive has dispirited the Democratic base. An Associated Press poll finds that just 33% of Democrats are excited about the 2020 election.
At the Iowa caucuses, where Democratic voters had their first chance to show their enthusiasm for replacing Trump, turnout was a dismal 170,000 — a 30% decline from 2008, when 240,000 Iowans turned out to give Barack Obama his first presidential primary victory.
Fourth, impeachment has put moderate House Democrats in grave peril. A New York Times/Sienna College poll recently found that almost two-thirds of voters in six battleground states who cast their ballots for Trump in 2016, but then voted for House Democrats in 2018, plan to back Trump again in 2020. That’s bad news for the 31 House Democrats elected in Trump districts in the midterms. How many people are going to vote to give Trump a second term (BEG ITAL)and(END ITAL) vote for the Democrats who tried to take away their right to do so? Not many.
Fifth, impeachment forced Democrats to unlock the legislative floodgates and give Trump major victories. Democrats knew that voters saw them focusing on impeachment at the expense of getting things done, so as they voted to approve articles of impeachment, they also voted to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Trump’s tax bill that repealed three Obamacare taxes, and Trump’s $738 billion defense spending bill that created his Space Force and enacted his parental leave policy for federal workers, without restricting his use of defense dollars to build a border wall.
The effect was the opposite of what Democrats intended, creating the impression that while Democrats were busy impeaching, Trump was busy governing.
Follow Marc A. Thiessen on Twitter, @marcthiessen.