A recent CNN news report began with a reporter breathlessly claiming that a new public opinion poll showed support for the removal of President Trump was “on the rise,” but a breakdown of numbers reported by the CNN poll and other recent polls shows that the chances that the President will win not only acquittal but re-election remain strong, and may be “on the rise” as well.
Polls are currently showing that about 50% of the public supports the President’s removal. Yet they also show how polarized by party the American people have become. About 85% of Democrats support his conviction and removal, while 85% of Republicans support his acquittal and retention. And these numbers come after the Democrats presented their case for conviction before the Senate, but before the President’s Republican defenders had their chance to reply.
Of course, it’s probable that the Republican response, the bulk of which will be made this upcoming week, will change few minds. The Democrats will be no more moved by what the Republicans will say than the Republicans have been persuaded by the Democrats. In short, neither side has budged, or will budge.
That’s good news for the President. The fact that 85% of the GOP remains solidly in his corner despite the Democrats’ arguments for his removal guarantees that the Republican senators will remain supportive if, for no other reason, than to avoid the anger of their own supporters. And—who knows?—they may even pick up a couple of Democratic votes in the Senate as well. The most likely prospective defectors from the Democrats are Senators Douglas Jones of Alabama and Joe Mancin of West Virginia. President Trump remains wildly popular in their states. Will either senator want to antagonize his constituents by voting to remove the President? Only time will tell.
President Trump’s probable acquittal will neither guarantee his re-election nor even bolster his public approval ratings, which stubbornly remain about 41%–lower than for most presidents at this stage of their tenure. But at least two other sets of polls reported this week will no doubt help the President build on his base of hardcore loyal supporters.
Polling shows a majority of the public—56%–approve the President’s handling of the economy. Here history is with President Trump. No president who’s won public approval of his perceived economic management has ever been defeated for re-election.
Moreover, the President may get more help from an unexpected source—the Democrats themselves. The most recent polling in both Iowa and New Hampshire show that Bernie Sanders has opened up major leads in both states as their contests near. Polling in Iowa predicts Sanders winning the caucuses with 25% of the vote, with Buttigieg projected to win 18%, Biden 17%, Warren 15%, and Klobacher 8%. In New Hampshire, Sanders is projected to win 22% of the vote, Buttigieg 17%, Biden 15%, and Klobuchar 10%. Both states are small. Neither state will send many delegates to the Democratic national convention. But victories in these states will be enormously important. They’ll generate momentum and inspire more voters and financial backers to support whomever wins those contests, as Sanders is projected to do so now. More support early on will mean more victories in future caucuses and primaries—and probably at the Democratic National Convention as well.
Sanders’ victories will especially help President Trump. Of all the possible Democratic presidential nominees, Sanders can most easily be portrayed as a radical leftist. While voters in primaries and caucuses frequently support the most ideologically committed candidates, general election voters prefer moderate liberals or moderate conservatives to those who can be portrayed as right-wing or left-wing radicals. No doubt the President and GOP propagandists will joyfully portray Bernie Sanders as an extremist who should be allowed nowhere near the Oval Office. And they may well get enough of the voters to agree this November to give the President another 4 years in the White House.
Last year, when the Mueller Report, which concluded that there was no evidence of collusion between Russia and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, was released, Time reported the Mueller Report’s findings in an issue with a cartoon of President Trump, happily tripping through the rain, keeping himself dry with a large umbrella. In his quest for re-election, the President is unlikely to encounter sunny weather any time soon. Speaker Pelosi is right to claim that even with acquittal, the original impeachment will remain a permanent stain on his record. And the President’s stubbornly low popularity ratings will remain an obstacle. But with acquittal, a booming economy, and the possibility of Bernie Sanders as an opponent, President Trump can still remain dry with a nice large umbrella as he dances, prances, and splashes his way to a second term in the Oval Office.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.