Democrats across the country are shell-shocked after learning that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report found no collusion between anyone in the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. The good news for Democrats is that the key to electoral victories in 2020,does not rest on impeaching the president for colluding with Russia.
In 2018, when Democrats won back control of the House of Representatives, the candidates who beat their Republican opponents did not campaign on promising to impeach the president.
A conservative Democrat from Pennsylvania, Rep. Conor Lamb, has stated he has no intention of voting to impeach the president. He has twice beaten a Republican in a congressional district that Trump won by 20 percentage points by focusing on issues like health care and infrastructure – not impeachment.
Pennsylvania might be the most important swing state in the 2020 presidential election. Hence, taking Conor Lamb’s approach on impeachment and Russian collusion is a good idea for any Democratic presidential candidate hoping to win that pivotal state.
It’s not just conservative Democrats who are unenthusiastic about campaigning on impeachment and Russian collusion. Last year even the most progressive Democrats, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez D-N.Y., did not campaign on impeaching the president.
Of course, we all know Ocasio-Cortez would vote to impeach Trump if it came to a vote. In fact, she has stated as much. But in the 2018 Democratic primary – her biggest electoral hurdle – Ocasio-Cortez attacked incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley for being out of touch with his diverse constituency. It worked, and the 29-year-old political phenom soundly defeated the chairman of the Queens’ Democratic Party.
According to Gallup, in the 2018 midterm elections 80 percent of the voters said the most important issue was health care. Next in importance were the economy and immigration, each at 78 percent.
But investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election was only important to 45 percent of voters. Clearly, the 2018 Democratic candidates understood the mindset of the electorate and campaigned accordingly.
The Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi of California, has also opposed impeaching the president. Asked about impeaching Trump recently she said that “he’s just not worth it.” Clearly, she reads the polls about what doesn’t resonate with voters.
Pelosi’s views on impeachment are also probably influenced by the fact that the highest approval ratings that President Clinton ever had, were just after he survived his own impeachment battle.
Like Clinton, Trump would probably survive a vote in the Senate to remove him from office. After all, it would require 20 Republican Senators to vote against the leader of their party, jeopardizing their own political futures.
Another problem for Democrats is that a failed impeachment could enrage Republican voters in 2020 and drive them to the polls in masses. Not much different than how the Democrats' efforts to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, just before the 2018 midterms, suppressed Democratic gains by motivating conservative voters.
Finally, even Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t think impeaching the president would change the underlying problems facing this nation, which she recently tweeted are “income inequality, racism, corruption, a willingness to excuse bigotry.”
While the media would love nothing more than tfor Congress and the White House to square off in an impeachment battle, it probably wouldn’t benefit Democrats on Election Day. Democrats may bemoan Robert Mueller’s report for now, but they may be thankful next November when they can campaign on affordable health care and economic justice – issues that motivate their voters, who are critical to taking back the Senate and the White House.