Early on in the impeachment saga, before Democrats fully embraced the idea of trying to legally remove President Donald Trump from office, arguments against doing so tended to worry over it would be a political mission doomed to failure — and worse yet, would actually help Trump to re-election in 2020, and harm Democrats in congressional races as well.
Even Trump’s campaign head, Brad Parscale, suggested in December, as the vote for impeachment was coming about, that the process was helping them more than Democrats, in terms of the next election cycle.
“This lit up our base, lit up the people that are supporters of the president,” Parscale claimed, per reporting from the Washington Post at the time.
Those fears seem to be alleviated somewhat, however, if current polls (compared to polls at the beginning of impeachment) are to be believed. In short, it appears that Democrats have not been harmed any by the impeachment proceedings, from start to end.
With a vote on indictment set to happen this week, in which the Senate is predicted to not vote to indict the president, an Economist/YouGov poll from some of the last few days of January shows that Trump’s approval rating sits at 42 percent, with 50 percent of registered voters saying they disapprove of his job performance during the past three years he’s been in office.
Good news for Democrats in latest #CNN election poll:
— Richard Hine (@richardhine) January 23, 2020
Compare that to an Economist/YouGov poll from September, before impeachment was announced, and you see very little change at all: just 41 percent approved of his work at that point, with 50 percent disapproving.
In terms of congressional elections, the Republicans don’t seem to be capitalizing on things as much as Parscale claims Trump has. In fundraising numbers, as National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar has noted, GOP challengers in districts where Democrats have a member of Congress elected, but which Trump won in 2016, haven’t been “rolling in the dough,” to say the least.
“There are 30 Trump districts held by Dems. The races where House Rs absolutely need to crush it — and should’ve gotten a big boost from impeachment,” Kraushaar wrote in a tweet. “In only 12 of them did the GOP challenger hit $200K in actual donor dollars.”
This is the political equivalent of the 2019 Cleveland Browns: lots of hype but performing well under expectations.
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) February 1, 2020
“This is the political equivalent of the 2019 Cleveland Browns: lots of hype but performing well under expectations,” he added.
The average cost to win a House seat in 2018 was around $2 million. That 18 GOP House candidates in vulnerable Democratic districts weren’t able to raise even a tenth of that figure is extremely telling about their chances to take back the House in 2020.
Polling again provides evidence that impeachment didn’t hurt Democrats. In September of last year, voters were asked who they wanted to see win in a generic ballot, a Democrat or a Republican. Only 39 percent said they preferred the Republican candidate at that point in time, while 47 percent said they wanted the Democrat to win.
Things haven’t changed much since that time. In the January poll, 48 percent said they wanted the Dem to win, while, again, 39 percent preferred the Republican.
Favorability ratings for Democrats between those two dates haven’t shifted considerably either — if anything, voters liked Democrats more after impeachment happened than before, as the party’s favorability numbers increased by a small margin (2 percentage points) from September to January.
If anything, impeachment made things harder for Trump — numbers from a CNN/SSRS poll showed that 51 percent of Americans want the Senate to indict and remove him from office. That’s not a great starting place for the incumbent president to be in at the start of the 2020 presidential campaign, to say the least.