Trump impeachment strategy makes Elizabeth Warren and Democratic sweep possible

The latest polling data show Americans in favour of an impeachment investigation, one that the White House is telling government officials and allies to impede. I think this is an error in strategy by Trump. And the ultimate consequence may be a Democratic sweep in 2020. Some brief thoughts below

The data

Here are the latest poll numbers:

Impeachment Poll.png

The keys here are highlighted in yellow below.

Impeachment subtext.png

All you need to know is that a majority of Americans support the impeachment inquiry – and that that support is up significantly in the last couple of months across all voting blocs.

What this tells you is that American voters see the impeachment inquiry as legitimate, and that its legitimacy is rising.

The Trump Strategy is flawed

I view the Trump Strategy as having not changed from the Mueller investigation. He tries to ‘bulldog it’ by denying everything and attacking his attackers. He’s mostly about offense and less about defense.

In public, he admits to the baseline charges, knowing that human nature is to believe a ‘guilty’ party wouldn’t do so. And then he tells the public via Twitter that he did nothing improper,  gets surrogates to support him in the media, and labels all opposition to him as purely partisan in nature. The expectation is that his base of support will agree about the partisanship, allowing Republican members of Congress to stand by him, such that his base stands by him come election time.

In fact, under the guise of de-legitimizing this impeachment inquiry as partisan, Trump is instructing anyone in his orbit to not accede to any Congressional subpoenas and not appear before Congress, just as he did with Mueller.

This is an error.

First, polling data show us that Trump won’t be able to get away with tactic given the trend in public opinion. And this is putting his support by members of Congress in jeopardy.

Second, House Democrats have already warned that any refusals to release documents or appear before Congress will be taken as obstruction and added as an impeachable offense if the House moves to impeachment.

Third, Trump’s latest moves on Open Skies and Turkey are not in line with Republican orthodoxy, and come at a critical time for him in shoring up Congressional support.

Fourth, Trump’s attacks on Mitt Romney, a fellow Republican, are ill-conceived. Romney is allegedly in the process of organizing Republican opposition to Trump – opposition that could, in extremis, lead to a conviction of Trump in the Senate and removal from office.

My View

Trump is testing both his base of support in the electorate and in Congress with this stonewalling strategy. The Ukraine situation is viewed as more serious than the Russia inquiry – with many Republicans viewing his behavior as improper, if not impeachable.

I think the economy is a big factor here. If it begins to stall, Republicans in Congress will have very little to campaign on in November 2020 – even on social issues like the Wall on the US southern border.

On the economic side, the tax cuts are unpopular because of inequality. And this is an issue Democrats will use against Republicans. So the economy and conservative judges are all that Republicans really have left.

So, if the economy falters from here, I think the GOP will cut Trump loose because they will not have a strong down-ballot re-election platform. The Trump strategy of not allowing depositions makes that easier to do because Republicans in the Senate can vote in favour of removal from office on obstruction of justice charges without giving credence to the other bits of the impeachment inquiry. And then the Republicans will have nearly a year to rebuild their standing with voters.

If they are unable to do so, I believe the Democrats could take both the Senate and the Presidency, while keeping the House. Moreover, with Biden fading and damaged by Trump’s gambit on his son and Sanders damaged by health concerns, Elizabeth Warren becomes the nominee.

I see Warren as someone who is viewed with suspicion on the left, but who is much more likely to execute a progressive agenda than Barack Obama was. That means more spending, more taxes on the rich, and more anti-trust.

This is a sea change in economic policy. And if it happens, it will have far-reaching consequences on US domestic and foreign policy and global asset prices for years to come. It would be a monumental paradigm shift, the likes of which we haven’t seen in 40 years.

So watch this impeachment stuff with that in mind. And remember that the economy (and the Federal Reserve) could be the tipping point.

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