With little popular interest in impeachment, Americans may be all Trumped out

With little popular interest in impeachment, Americans may be all Trumped out
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If President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE is tanking in public opinion, why don't the polls show more public support for impeachment? It may be because Trump fatigue is setting in.

Almost every national poll shows a majority expressing disapproval of the way Trump is handling his job. Trump claims the Mueller report “exonerated” him on the charge of obstruction of justice, but the report didn't actually say that and most voters aren't buying it. The Washington Post-ABC News poll asked, “Do you think Trump tried to interfere with the Russia investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice, or did he not try to do this?” Forty-seven percent said he did, and 41 percent said he didn't.

Did the president lie to the American public about the matters under investigation? Fifty-eight percent said yes. Did the Mueller investigation absolve Trump of all wrongdoing? The president says it did (“No collusion, no obstruction”). The public says it didn't (53 to 31 percent).

Impeachment is a different story, however.

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House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Lawmakers 'failed us' says ICE chief Pelosi, Democratic leaders seek to quell liberal revolt over border bill MORE has warned her fellow Democrats, “Impeachment is a step that you have to take bringing the American people with you.” And the American people aren't there yet.

Should the House begin the process of impeaching President Trump? In every poll, a majority of Americans say no. Only 32 to 40 percent support the idea.

The Morning Consult poll asked how high a priority should each of eleven issues be for Congress to act on. Only 26 percent called “beginning impeachment proceedings to remove President Trump from office” a top priority — less than health care reform, immigration reform, deficit reduction, climate change, infrastructure spending, gun control and reducing economic inequality. One issue ranked lower than impeachment: “regulation of tech companies.”

If the American public has lost confidence in the president and believe he is guilty of wrongdoing, why don't they see impeachment as the appropriate response? Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said: “The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty.” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) was more direct: “The Constitution gives the responsibility to Congress to impeach an unfit president. What more do we need?”

The answer is public support. It wasn't there when President Clinton was impeached in 1998 and the result was a political backlash against Republicans.  Top House Democratic leaders know that impeachment would enrage Trump supporters and put the Democratic House majority at risk. But ordinary voters rarely make that kind of calculation.

Some voters may be aware that the process wouldn't work. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) warns, “If we impeach Donald Trump, he would never be convicted in the Senate. And he would be able to campaign all around the country saying, ‘I've been acquitted.’” Another “witch hunt!”

Even if impeachment somehow did work, the result would be to make Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceBolton presses Iran to withdraw forces from Syria, areas of conflict EXCLUSIVE: Trump accuses Biden of lying about Obama's lack of endorsement Leaked Trump transition vetting documents show numerous officials with 'red flags': Axios MORE president. Not a prospect many Democrats would look forward to.

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The country is far more polarized today than it was when Richard Nixon faced impeachment. By the time Nixon resigned in August 1974, half of his party had given up on him. A battle over impeachment now would be far more bitter and divisive. Both sides would “go to the mattresses.” A restaurant owner in Miami told the New York Times, Trump “likes a fight, so if you try to fight him, you're playing in his field.”

The voters may be all Trumped out.

Asked in the CNN poll whether Democrats in Congress are doing too much, too little or about the right amount to investigate Donald Trump, 44 percent said “too much.” Only 25 percent said “too little.”

Trump fatigue seems to be setting in. Voters are tired of the endless fighting and bickering that consumes Washington — and of the press, which can't resist a nasty political brawl. A voter at a Democratic forum in Philadelphia told the Times, “I believe that Congress should not pursue impeachment, and I say this as someone who deeply loathes the president and absolutely believes he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. It keeps the conversation on Trump rather than on our agenda.”

Pelosi has denounced President Trump as unfit to serve while at the same time warning Democrats not to pursue impeachment. Impeachment is personal. It repudiates the president for his behavior, not necessarily his policies. Elections are political.

The only way to eradicate Trumpism is to prove to Republicans that it's a path to political disaster. And the only way to do that is to trounce them in the 2020 election.

Bill Schneider is a professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and author of ‘Standoff: How America Became Ungovernable (Simon & Schuster).