The New York Times started off this week by poking holes in Democrats’ hopes for 2020, and today they continue apace. In a blockbuster swing-state polling project, the Paper of Record noted that Donald Trump looks stronger than he does in national head-to-head polling in the states that will determine the election outcome next year. Be sure to read Allahpundit’s analysis of that before proceeding to the Gray Lady’s second kick to the Left’s gut based on deeper analysis of who’s still left to persuade.
Hint: it’s not the progressive commentariat’s target audience …
Instead, the Times/Siena polling suggests that the electorate remains deeply divided along the lines of the 2016 election, with many groups contributing a sliver of undecided voters to the broader pool.
The size of that persuadable pool depends on how they are defined. Although there is reason to think some voters have more of a partisan lean than they realize, let’s call the 15 percent who are still thinking of voting for Mr. Trump or a Democrat the potentially persuadable.
As a group they are 57 percent male and 72 percent white, and 35 percent have college degrees. Most, 69 percent, say they usually vote for a mix of both Democratic and Republican candidates. Among those who voted in 2016, 48 percent say they voted for Mr. Trump, 33 percent for Hillary Clinton, and 19 percent for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or no one. Those who voted in the midterm election voted for the Republican congressional candidate by one point.
In other words, the persuadables are already inclined toward the Big-League Persuader. And from there, the news gets worse for Democrats among those still not firmly in either camp, although the NYT tries to offer a little hope at the end:
Mr. Trump leads Ms. Warren, 49 percent to 27 percent, among this broadly defined group of persuadable voters, slightly improving on his margin over Mrs. Clinton. He holds a narrow 43-37 edge over Mr. Biden, a slight improvement for the president over the Republican performance in the midterm election but far from matching his tallies in 2016.
Perhaps it’s “far from matching his tallies in 2016,” but Biden and Warren are even further from matching Hillary Clinton’s tallies in 2016, too. And right now, given Trump’s relative unpopularity, that’s a yuuuge red flag in a cycle where he’s currently the target of a serious impeachment effort by House Democrats.
Actually, as I write in my column at The Week, that might be part of the problem. House Democrats may see themselves as the defender of norms, but voters may be seeing them as underminers of the disruption they wanted with Trump. If voters see them as the establishment trying to reassert dominance over the electorate, we may be in line for a big backfire a year from now:
How can this be? Trump is one of the most unpopular presidents — in national polling, sure, but also in state-by-state polling as well. House Democrats have spent all year demanding his impeachment, first over the Robert Mueller special-counsel probe of the 2016 election, then regarding alleged obstruction of justice detailed in Mueller’s report, and now over the Ukraine affair. Even if voters aren’t necessarily excited about impeachment, any normal politician would have seen their electoral support eroded by now.
The easy response to that is to echo Trump’s self-assessment as an extraordinary politician, but the real answer may be less about Trump than it is about these voters. The 2016 election was driven by rejection of the establishment in both political parties; Clinton managed to survive a close primary, but populist voters pushed Trump to the GOP nomination. In the general election, the same voters rejected Clinton’s promise of establishment continuity for Trump’s disruption of establishment control. …
Seen in this light, House Democrats may have set themselves up for a huge backfire. Their demands for impeachment could look very much like a concerted effort by the political establishment to thwart the will of these voters.
Trump ran in 2016 as the only man strong enough to run against the establishment. By pursuing impeachment at all costs, especially with no hope at all of having a Republican Senate removing him, Democrats might inadvertently prove Trump correct — and give him an even stronger populist argument for 2020.
Now that pollsters are starting to pay attention to regional and state demographics, we should be able to track whether impeachment sells — or destroys. We know how it worked out in 1998, but the electorate is much different this time around, and not in ways that hint at success for the legal firm of Pelosi, Schiff, & Nadler.