Steve Bannon made this point a few days ago and now here’s Rudy echoing him yesterday. If you want to protect Trump from impeachment, you’d better tie your shoes on Election Day and get to the polls. I wonder what’s happening behind the scenes to have driven them towards that message instead of the tried-and-true “it’s the economy, stupid” pitch that parties tend to opt for when the economy’s working in their favor. (House Republicans are running on a “Better Off Now” slogan this fall, for instance.) Did the Russia investigation take a turn that the public’s not privy to yet, triggering earnest anxiety among Trump and his cronies that impeachment really might be on the table soon? That might also explain why POTUS flew off the handle yesterday morning on Twitter.
Or is the impeachment message a pure matter of tailoring your pitch to the segment of the electorate you’re most worried about? To quote Corey Lewandowski:
“People don’t turn out to say thank you,” said Corey Lewandowski, one of the president’s top political advisers. “If you want to get people motivated, you’ve got to give them a reason to vote. Saying ‘build the wall and stop illegals from coming in and killing American citizens’ gives them an important issue.”
The voters most likely to respond to Trump’s and the GOP’s midterm message are Republicans and, like Corey says, they’re not likely to turn out to say “thanks for the great economy.” In fact, the credit Trump takes for America’s economic growth may work against base turnout in a sense: If you believe that he’s the reason for booming GDP then it shouldn’t matter so much who’s in charge of Congress. As Lewandowski said, the way to get people excited to vote is to stop reminding them what they’ve already gained and to start reminding them of what they still have to lose. You want voters angry or scared or ideally both. What more efficient way is there of achieving that among Republicans than by claiming that impeachment is one election away, even though there’s zero chance Democrats will have 67 votes in the Senate next year for removal?
By the way, what’s Rudy doing campaigning up in New Hampshire? He’s not hedging his bets on 2020 just in case Mueller strikes gold and Republicans suddenly need a new nominee in 2020, is he? Mike Pence would be the frontrunner in that case, sure, but Pence isn’t really a true MAGA guy: He’s been a loyal servant to Trump but he endorsed Ted Cruz before the Indiana primary and spent his entire political career as a movement conservative with an emphasis on “values” issues. Not very populist. Rudy is much Trumpier on the merits — a New Yorker, centrist, authoritarian, pugnacious, and piling up bonus points with populists day by day as he throws roundhouses at Mueller. He’d be mighty old (76) in 2020 for a nominee but he’s younger than both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. It’d be a hell of an election. Imagine the debates between him and Democratic nominee Michael Avenatti.
Here he is yesterday followed a clip of the House Republican prosperity message. Which seems likelier to turn out Republicans? The House’s pitch is certainly better for swing voters, but how many true swing voters are there anymore in an America bitterly polarized by Trump?