Monday, November 4, 2019

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Impeachment Polling

There are now new kinds of polls, impeachment polls, for 2020. 
But like national polls for president, they are basically flawed.

First, historically and now, impeachment is political, not judicial.

Members of Congress in 1868 and 1998 were primarily politically
motivated to impeach (indict) Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton,
but U.S. senators in both cases were unwilling, based on the
charges, to take the draconian action of removing (convicting) a
president. In both cases, there were valid issues (such as Clinton’s
perjury), but none that the senators felt reached a level justifying
removal from office. So far, this circumstance seems applicable in
2019 as the U.S. house considers another impeachment.

In the only vote taken so far, one to formalize the U.S. house
impeachment inquiries, the vote was along nearly pure partisan
lines. Nor has any evidence yet been brought out publicly that
unequivocably justifies impeachment --- especially because the
“inquiries” to date have been secret and partisan (unlike in 1998
when members of both parties participated).

Donald Trump is a controversial figure who has disrupted
conventional notions of the presidency. He is loved and hated.
I have previously pointed out that it is entirely legitimate to
dislike and oppose him, and to wish to replace him with another
person. The way to do it is to vote him out of office in an election.
But to do so by impeachment on the eve of the next national
election using secret inquiries, unnamed “whistleblowers,” and
ambiguous evidence --- and without widespread voter support ---
is simply as attempt to conduct a presidential election with only
a few hundred members of the national legislature.

The Democratic leaders in the U.S. house fully know, while
they do have the votes to impeach (indict) because they have a
majority in their body, they do not have the necessary 67 votes,
nor even a majority, in the U.S. senate to convict (remove). The
only reasonable conclusion from this is that the Democrats are
simply acting out a very partisan political scheme.

Which brings me to the impeachment polls. The national
presidential polls only reflect  the popular vote of all the
states which include California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts,
and other large states with big Democratic majorities. They do
not reflect the electoral college state votes which are the actual
election. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but lost
the election.  In 2019, national presidential and impeachment
polls mostly show Mr. Trump behind, but polls in the competitive
states show the opposite. Furthermore, by coming so close to the
2020 election, the two kinds of polls, in reality, have merged into
one --- in short, they reflect whom the electorate currently thinks
they would vote for --- and not, I would suggest, the merits of
impeachment. Furthermore, many observers suggest that the
partisan impeachment process actually helps the president
politically with voters.

Not only that, the current impeachment process is having the
unintended consequence of distracting Democrats from their
own presidential nomination contest at a critical time. The many
serious candidates find themselves upstaged daily by sensational
impeachment headlines. This could contribute to the upcoming
primaries and caucuses failing to produce a Democratic nominee
before the party convention in late July --- leaving Democrats only
three months to raise enough money, heal convention residual
bitterness, and conduct an effective campaign against the
Republican incumbent.

I have argued that President Trump’s re-election has been far
from certain. Yes, economic and international conditions ahead
will play their part. Of course, Democrats have their divisions,
and must decide whether to go to the electorate with a center
left or much further left nominee. But why should that party
tie its own hands with a perceived partisan process that risks so
much backlash from those key voters who are genuinely
undecided or independent?

At the very least, misleading polls do not justify this dubious
political risk. Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it correctly
only a few months ago when she stated explicitly that
impeachment is not good for her party nor for the country. She
is now being pressured by radical colleagues to proceed with
impeachment --- although it might result in the loss of her
party's U.S. house majority.

As we all learned in 2016, the Democrats can give away an
election they are supposed to win.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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