Impeachment has been a flop on a lot of fronts -- but especially when it comes to hurting the president politically. Not only has the sham process boosted Donald Trump's approval ratings, but it's made people think twice about his 2020 opposition. In polling at Axios, the president is leading every Democratic candidate in head-to-head match-ups -- something that seemed downright impossible a few months ago. At this rate, when the curtain drops on November, the only thing Donald Trump will be saying to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is "thank you."
Trump goes up, impeachment goes down -- that seems to be the trend in almost every survey house these days. From Gallup to Rasmussen, Axios to Quinnipiac, the battleground states aren't the only ones sick of the Left. Chris Wilson from WPA Intelligence has seen the patterns up close and joined me on "Washington Watch" Wednesday to explain where he thinks the House has overstepped.
It defies logic, at least on the Democratic side, he said, but "This is the high water in terms of [the president's] approval. It is. You're seen his numbers solidify in states where he was weak just a few months ago -- [places like] Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. He had started to slip some in Iowa." Not only has Donald Trump rebounded there, but even in states where had challenges in 2016. "He's now doing pretty well in Minnesota, New Hampshire." In the media, where editorial boards stuck out their necks to endorse impeachment (like USA Today), this polling "has really got to be throwing them for a loop."
In another worrisome sign for Democrats, Axios held focus groups with voters who supported Barack Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016. "And they found that their support for Donald Trump in 2020 was even stronger than it was in 2016. Look, the number one reason for that is the economy," Chris insists. "The number two reason is Democrats and the way they've handled impeachment." And in swing districts, he warns, where Trump is popular, these Democrats are really taking a major gamble. "[T]here are 31 seats that Democrats hold that were won by Donald Trump. And I would predict today they'll lose 15 to 20 of those -- at least. It could be more than that."
So what on earth do they have to gain? The only person Chris could think of (apart from Republicans) is Nancy Pelosi. "She keeps the speakership. And that really is what this is about for her... You mentioned Blue Dog Democrats. There's none of those left, but there are reasonable Democrats left. And you and I both know some of them... [And when I do media] I'll be in the green room talking with some of those reasonable Democrats. And they are furious at her because she's throwing her freshman Democrat class under the bus in order to appease the [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezes] of the world... Pelosi was scared that if she didn't move forward with these impeachment charges, that she would be challenged from her Left for the speakership."
It's a remarkable risk. To her majority status and at least 30 members of her caucus, Pelosi is basically saying, "I don't care if you guys lose. I need to make sure I stay in power." "So this is selfish, self-preservation move for her." The only smart thing Democrats have done, Chris argues, is hurry this process along. "What she and Rep. Jerry Nadler and Rep. Adam Schiff did is push this through as quickly as possible so that hopefully it'll be gone from the voters' minds by the time November 2020 comes around -- [which is] in their best interest."
Obviously, just because Donald Trump leads in these states now doesn't mean he'll lead in 2020. A lot can happen before then. "But it certainly has allowed him to rebuild his image and point to his accomplishments. Because as they try to point to a perceived failure he can say, 'Well, look at these things. I'm doing well."