The Morning Jolt

White House

Impeachment Won’t Help Win Back Votes for Democrats

David Holmes, political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, takes the oath before testifying to a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, November 21, 2019. (Andrew Harrer/Pool via Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Two weeks of heavily hyped, nationally televised impeachment hearings appear to have had . . . zero impact on public opinion; Joe Biden gets some behind-the-scenes criticism from an unexpected source; Ralph Northam disappoints Virginia Democrats; and Saturday Night Live brings the “A” game for the Democratic debate.

Independents Just Aren’t Interested in Impeachment

You probably didn’t expect the impeachment hearings to move the needle much, but . . . did you expect them to not change public opinion at all? CNN finds, “half of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, 43 percent say he should not. Neither figure has changed since October, with support for impeachment remaining at its highest level thus far in CNN polling.”

The FiveThirtyEight aggregation of all public polls moved a little bit more in favor of removal in the past few days, it’s now 48 percent support, 44.2 percent opposed.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank blames Fox News and a cult-like attitude among Republicans for the president’s continued support, but let’s take a look at the numbers among independents in these surveys. In the latest YouGov poll, 35 percent of independents support removal. In SurveyUSA, it’s up to 48 percent. In Emerson college, it’s down to 34 percent. In Morning Consult, it’s 40 percent. For some reason, independents, who theoretically should have no particular loyalty to Trump, aren’t interested in seeing him removed from office.

It could be a sense that they believe that decision should be made at the ballot box in 2020. Or it could be that they perceive impeachment as just another chapter in Trump-centered partisan warfare that has dominated Washington since January 20, 2017. They’re not particularly tuned in to the news from the nation’s capital, but when they have tuned it, it’s seemed like Groundhog Day, or Erick Erickson’s “turning point” montage.

Most progressives dismiss Democratic strategist Doug Schoen as Fox News’ ideal voice on the left, always warning that his party is making some terrible misstep. Schoen seems adamant that impeachment is not going to help his party in 2020: “And given that states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida — ones the Democrats have to win in some combination to win the presidential election, it’s hard for me to see that impeachment is anything but a very problematic issue for the party.”

The argument from Schoen is that impeachment doesn’t resonate with the voters that Democrats want to win back: “I also think that we Democrats are losing a huge opportunity because on issues like gun violence prevention, climate change, health care, we have an advantage. We won the midterm elections in 2018 because of the utilization and in part of those issues. And to not take advantage of what people care about, which is real-world day to day problems of our quality of life, and instead, just keep focusing on impeachment. If I were recommending to the Democrats what to do. I’d say vote for censure, get it and move on.”

At the beginning of the month, that Siena/New York Times poll found support for impeachment among independents in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona from 35 percent to 43 percent — mirroring the national numbers. Separately, that Marquette University poll found just 36 percent of Wisconsin independents supporting removal.

Finally, our Mairead McArdle notices a House Democrat in the safest of deep blue districts suddenly backing away from removing the president.

“You can censure, you don’t have to remove the president,” Lawrence said Sunday on No BS News Hour with Charlie LeDuff. “Sitting here, knowing how divided this country is, I don’t see the value of kicking him out of office, but I do see the value of putting down a marker saying his behavior is not acceptable.”

There’s no way House Democrats fail to get 218 votes; just about every one of the 232 Democrats who voted to start the inquiry will vote for at least one of the counts of impeachment. But maybe Democrats are starting to sense that this is making their task in 2020 more difficult instead of easier.

With Old Friends Like These, Joe Biden Doesn’t Need Enemies

This morning, Ryan Lizza unveils a fascinating, deeply-reported story on Barack Obama’s role behind the scenes in the 2020 primary, and it includes this eyebrow-raising quote:

Sometimes he offers candid advice about his visitors’ strengths and weaknesses. With several lesser-known candidates, according to people who have talked to him or been briefed on his meetings, he was blunt about the challenges of breaking out of a large field. His advice is not always heeded. He told Patrick earlier this year that it was likely “too late” for him to secure “money and talent” if he jumped in the race. Occasionally, he can be cutting. With one candidate, he pointed out that during his own 2008 campaign, he had an intimate bond with the electorate, especially in Iowa, that he no longer has. Then he added, “And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.”

If Biden doesn’t get the nomination, a big factor will be Barack Obama’s surprising insistence that he remain neutral, and not even give even a veiled or implicit endorsement of his old running mate.

Ralph Northam: Sorry, Democrats, We Won’t Repeal Right-to-Work

In Virginia, Democrats win . . . and then, like with Justin Trudeau up north (second item), reality sets in:

Gov. Ralph Northam made clear to his revenue advisory council on Monday that he does not support repeal of Virginia’s right-to-work law that forbids compulsory union membership.

With Democrats preparing to take complete control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than 25 years, Northam sought to reassure Virginia business leaders that the state won’t take a sharp leftward turn on an issue that has long been a political fire alarm in a pro-business state.

The AFL-CIO and certain Democratic state lawmakers declared their disappointment with his stance. Hey, guys, earlier this year we were ready to help you get rid of Governor Blackface, and you guys didn’t take it.

ADDENDUM: Is it just me, or does Saturday Night Live do a much better job when it comes to mocking the Democratic presidential candidate debates? This weekend, the sketch was nearly a reunion show of old cast members: Maya Rudolph as senator Kamala Harris, Rachel Dratch as senator Amy Klobuchar and Fred Armisen as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg — barging in holding two large drink cups, and boasting he got into the stage “by tipping the doorman $30 million.” You may think there’s nothing particularly funny, or even memorable, about billionaire presidential candidate Tom Steyer. Will Ferrell, the episode’s host, played Steyer as a sad, lonely, slightly deranged and clingy billionaire who is incapable of blinking. Suddenly I want Steyer in future debates, just so we get more of Ferrell’s nutty version on him.

The sketch brought back Woody Harrelson as the gleefully inadvertently offensive Joe Biden — touting his support among “Blafrican-Americans, even the Mexitinos, and the Chorientals” — and Larry David as Bernie Sanders, playing the Vermont senator as the prototypical cranky old man obsessed with trivia. If anything, the regular cast members got lost in the shuffle — Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren, Colin Jost as Pete Buttigieg, Bowen Yang as Andrew Yang, Chris Redd as Cory Booker. One exception was Cecily Strong’s Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, “the designated villain of the night.” “I smell your fear and it makes me stronger,” would make a perfectly fine Gabbard campaign slogan.

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