Kellyanne Conway: The payback for impeachment is the nomination of Bernie Sanders

Newsweek isn’t sure what she means. I have a guess. Watch the last little bit of this interview, then read on.

I *think* she means that impeachment backfired on Democrats by creating an intense spotlight on Hunter Biden and Burisma, ironically the very thing Trump was seeking to do by nudging Ukraine to reopen an investigation into the two. Peter Beinart floated that theory a few weeks ago as well: Joe Biden, not Trump, was the big loser from the process.

Although Trump and his allies have proved no wrongdoing, the Ukraine story, according to an October Investor’s Business Daily poll, made 23 percent of Americans less likely to vote for Biden, and only 8 percent more likely to vote for him. A Hill-HarrisX poll that same month found that 54 percent of independents—and even 40 percent of Democrats—considered “Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine an important campaign issue that should be discussed.”

Biden’s extremely defensive response to the story has made matters worse. When a Fox News reporter asked the former vice president about his son’s work in Ukraine in September, Biden lectured, “Ask the right question.” In December, after Biden called an Iowa man a “damn liar” for raising the issue, Politico noted, “Biden has two methods of responding to questions about his son’s controversial business dealings in Ukraine: denial and anger. But so far, Biden doesn’t have a clear and cogent message—and Iowa voters are starting to take notice.” On caucus day itself, when NBC’s Savannah Guthrie asked about Hunter’s work in Ukraine, Biden snapped, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Biden has plenty of other weaknesses. But the Ukraine story is likely one reason that, according to a January Quinnipiac poll, he trails Bernie Sanders by nine points on the question of which Democratic presidential candidate is most honest.

If you watch from the beginning of the clip above, you’ll find Conway sneering at the longstanding belief in Joe Biden’s electability. “You’re now known as Hunter Biden’s father more than Barack Obama’s vice president,” she says, imagining how Democratic voters have come to perceive him. I’m skeptical that the Burisma stuff mattered as much as Biden’s senescence on the stump, his weak fundraising, and the vagaries of the primary calendar that put his strongest state behind a series of Bernie-friendly jurisdictions. His Democratic opponents have been careful not to attack him on it either, not wanting to be seen as aiding and abetting Trump’s insinuations of corruption. But is it possible that the early Buttigieg boomlet and brief Klobuchar surge in New Hampshire came because some centrist voters who were on the fence concluded that a Biden with Burisma baggage wasn’t as “electable” as he was cracked up to be?

Sure. That’s possible.

I’m less clear on what Conway means when she thanks “Never Trumpers” for impeachment, as that term is normally used to describe right-wingers who oppose Trump, not the rank-and-file Democrats who impeached him. She may have Never Trumpers on the brain because many of them spent the weekend getting bludgeoned by lefties on Twitter for declaring after Bernie’s win in Nevada that they can’t bring themselves to support the Democratic nominee this year after all. Via the Right Scoop:

There are, of course, Never Trumpers who’ll hold their noses and vote socialist anyway:

“It’s asking a lot from people on the center-right or in the old Reagan wing of GOP to go full Sanders in November,” said Jerry Taylor, who runs the Niskanen Center, a Washington think tank that has become a hub for the Never Trump community. Taylor does plan to support Sanders in the general election if the senator wins the Democratic nod but described himself, and others like him, as the exception to the rule.

“I would not feel particularly happy about it, but I would swallow hard and pull the lever,” Taylor said.

Tom Nichols, another Never Trumper well-known on political Twitter, is also very grudgingly pro-Sanders. Naturally he and others in the “okay, fine, I’ll vote for Bernie” camp are getting bludgeoned on Twitter by righties. I’m with David French: In a country where we retain the glorious right to not vote, that right should be exercised vigorously when given an unacceptable choice. “Our parties are failing to produce fit candidates,” says French. “Do not endorse their failures with your vote.” Quite so.

I don’t know. There’s one guy I’d probably turn out for if he runs. Exit quotation:

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