The Hill: Dems worry that Trump can win in 2020 despite impeachment

Why not because of it? The morning after House Democrats impeached Donald Trump in part to prevent his re-election, their own strategists warn that it may be inevitable anyway. The argument is that impeachment may not be the impediment that Nancy Pelosi & Co believe it to be:

“Yes, he can win,” said Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis. “And presuming otherwise is a recipe for repeating the mistakes of 2016. This isn’t a national election. He is going to lose the popular vote by 2 to 3 million votes, but the battlegrounds are still competitive and he won the Electoral College.”

Putting a fine point on it, Kofinis said Trump could be reelected “because if you look at past elections, no incumbent president has lost an election with a growing economy and peacetime conditions.”

While Trump has a disapproval rating around 52 percent, Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics said next year’s election “is Trump’s to lose.”

“Trump wins if the economy and his approval ratings are about the same a year from now as today, and turnout is typical. But if the economy stumbles, his popularity flags or Democrat turnout is big, the Democrats win,” he told Bloomberg News in an interview last month.

Part of this worry comes from what Democratic strategists are seeing in the party’s primary race. Which of the candidates can beat Trump in battleground districts and states? So far, the strategists don’t see any likely candidates. The polls tend to agree after two months of the House impeachment dominating the headlines. For instance, the latest USA Today-Suffolk poll has Trump up three points on Joe Biden, five on Bernie Sanders, eight on Elizabeth Warren, and ten on Pete Buttigieg.

A significant factor, however, is the increasing unpopularity of impeachment and the Democrats’ obsession over it. The House majority has spent all year attempting to find a rationale for impeachment, and Zogby Analytics’ latest survey shows that voters have noticed. Two-thirds of their respondents say that Democrats have more interest in impeaching Trump than in focusing on “legislation that will help Americans,” including a majority of Democratic voters:

And the shocking sidebar: A majority of Democrats, 53%, believe this is the case too, said pollster Jonathan Zogby.

“This feeling of politics first permeated a majority of every subgroup: all felt that Democrats in Congress were more concerned with impeaching the president rather than passing legislation that helps Americans,” he said in sharing the poll with Secrets.

His is the latest survey to show that the Democratic drive to impeach the president today has done little to expand their base or drive up Trump’s approval numbers.

What his poll shows, instead, is the feeling by many that the effort was a costly waste and robbed Congress of time needed to push through helpful legislation.

How can voters express their disgust over a highly partisan impeachment on questionable-at-best grounds? They can give Trump a second term and effectively rebut the impeachment and rebuke Democrats for wasting a full year over it. At the moment, it seems as though that’s more likely than not, even to Democratic strategists. That impulse might not win Trump California or New York, but it will be a much bigger factor in places like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where populist-minded voters elected Trump to send a message to the Beltway. Impeachment polls much worse in those battleground states anyway, and the backlash there might be too much for even a strong challenger to overcome. If Trump wins those states again, he will keep the White House.

Such a rebuke from the voters might convince future Houses to forego impeachment except under truly extraordinary circumstances. In fact, it might be the only way now to prevent the slide to a quasi-parliamentary system where impeachment gets treated as a no-confidence vote. Democrats have good reason to fear this backlash, and have earned it in spades.