The Corner


The Predictable and Unpredictable Stories in Our Politics at This Moment

(James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

Right now, there are two giant stories going on in American politics: the impeachment of President Trump, and the closing weeks before Democrats start casting ballots in their presidential primary.

The impeachment story has been predictable since the beginning: President Trump will get impeached by the House on an almost entirely party-line vote, and he will be acquitted by the Senate on an almost entirely party-line vote. The vast majority of Republicans think the House is wrong to vote for articles of impeachment, the vast majority of Democrats think the Senate is wrong to acquit the president. This entire process has been marked by accusations and counter-accusations of rapid partisanship, corruption, and injustice. But despite all the raging passions, there’s no real drama; we all know how this story is going to end.

Meanwhile, in the Democratic primary, the outcome is perhaps more unclear than ever. Joe Biden has been a consistent frontrunner, but he’s a shaky one; he’s currently running third in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders somehow managed to have a heart attack not deter his campaign at all; he’s currently running second in Iowa and leading in New Hampshire. Elizabeth Warren has experienced a rollercoaster in recent months, and while she’s sliding, she’s still indisputably in the top tier. Pete Buttigieg, an extremely obscure figure when the year began, is leading Iowa and could shock the world the night of February 3. And Michael Bloomberg is spending fortunes previously never seen in American politics in a late bid for the nomination. He’ll stay in this race until he gets tired of running.

This Democratic primary is genuinely unpredictable; once highly touted figures like Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke crashed and burned. While it’s likely that someone will win the requisite number of delegates to clinch the nomination, the idea of a brokered convention feels a little more plausible with four, or perhaps even five top-tier contenders. The extremely long run-up to the primaries is coming to an end; if you follow politics, this is one of the genuinely exciting times. Democratic caucus-goers and primary voters are going to crush some dreams early next year.

In this light, the impeachment fight is over-covered and over-discussed, and the Democratic primary is under-covered and under-discussed.


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