Dems must beware impeaching Trump if the blue wave prevails

Dems must beware impeaching Trump if the blue wave prevails
© Greg Nash

As we reflect upon the primary elections in West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina, it is apparent that Democrats stand a good chance of flipping the House in their favor this fall. This would lead to a momentous shift in the power dynamic in Washington and could have dramatic consequences such as the beginning of impeachment proceedings.

This much is clear this year: House Republicans are leaving Washington at remarkable levels, with more than 40 having opted to retire, resign or run for another office. At the same time, the Democrats have solidified their positions in coastal states and are poised to be competitive in new regions as well, bringing the House well into play.

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In the Senate, on the other hand, there are 26 Democratic and only nine Republican seats up for grabs this year, meaning that Democrats would have to retain all of their current seats and win an additional two. It is a hurdle they will be unlikely to overcome.

Republicans are most vulnerable in Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee. Democrats could pick up one or two of these states, but each will be a hard fight. Moreover, 10 of the Democratic seats up this year are in states Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Pawlenty loses comeback bid in Minnesota Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary MORE won, including five where Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat MORE garnered less than 40 percent of the vote and where the Republicans are in striking distance.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott now leads Democratic Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonPoll shows Sen. Nelson in virtual dead heat against Gov. Scott among Latino voters Hillicon Valley: FBI fires Strzok after anti-Trump tweets | Trump signs defense bill with cyber war policy | Google under scrutiny over location data | Sinclair's troubles may just be beginning | Tech to ease health data access | Netflix CFO to step down Jimmy Buffett endorses Dem in Florida governor race MORE in polls by four points. Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyProgressives fume as Dems meet with Brett Kavanaugh Woman throws stuffed lips at Doug Jones, says he 'can kiss my ass' if he backs Kavanaugh Trump’s big wall isn’t going anywhere — and the polls show why MORE of Indiana and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s GOP feuds dominate ahead of midterms Dustbin 2020: The best Dems who surely won’t get the nomination Vulnerable Dems side with Warren in battle over consumer bureau MORE of Ohio are also facing tough Republican opponents in November, both in states that Trump carried in 2016.

In these states, as well as others like West Virginia, Missouri, Montana, and North Dakota, Republicans have a chance to actually expand — or at the very least maintain — their advantage in the Senate while the Democrats retake the House. Should Democrats succeed in turning the House blue, they will most likely begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Indeed, Democratic voters overwhelmingly want to impeach Trump. A Quinnipiac poll last month found that the vast majority, 71 percent, of Democratic voters want the party to begin the impeachment process if they win control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections.

Moreover, Democratic voters are willing to prove their desire for a Trump impeachment come Election Day by favoring candidates that would make it a reality. When asked if they definitely would vote for or against a 2018 midterm congressional candidate who wants to move to impeach Trump, a massive 70 percent of Democratic voters said they definitely would.

Yet, if the Democrats do win back the House and pursue impeachment against the president, there is little on the record to suggest House Democrats have enough evidence to get a conviction in the Senate.

We could thus see a divided government much like we encountered in 1998. Such an outcome does not serve the American people’s interests and only serves to further embroil Washington in divisive gridlock. It also, ironically maybe, would bode well for Trump’s reelection bid in 2020.

While Democrats ferociously want an impeachment, most Americans do not. The same Quinnipiac poll from April 2018 also found that just 38 percent of all Americans favor impeachment. If Democrats recklessly pursue impeachment without a mandate by all Americans, not just the left, they could face retribution at the ballot in 2020 and beyond.

In 1998, for example, Democrats were able to make the case that the GOP sought impeachment for political purpose and it proved persuasive to some voters. Trump, who has already begun discussing impeachment in stump speeches, could use this to rally his base.

While an impeachment strategy may energize Democratic voters and serve Democratic interests in the short-term, it will not bring left-leaning Independents into their camp. These are the voters that helped bring Trump to victory in 2016 and a group Democrats should be courting.

If Democrats manage to flip the House come November, they will still likely be forced to reckon with a Senate controlled by Republicans. To pursue impeachment in a divided government is a double-edged sword, as was demonstrated with Bill Clinton in 1998. Democrats should be wary of this path, lest it hurt their chances in 2020.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books, including “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”