Presidential race runs front and center in impeachment politics

Presidential race runs front and center in impeachment politics
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It has been almost two weeks since Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGiuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Brindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union MORE announced that the House of Representatives would open a formal impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE following the release of a White House call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry MORE.

As the situation continues to unravel, a number of key developments have taken place, including Trump publicly requesting another foreign country, China, to investigate Biden on his past. Standing on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday, Trump told reporters, “China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”

To be sure, Trump has clearly abused the power of the presidency for personal political gain. In many ways, it is no surprise that House Democrats decided to begin the impeachment process. Unfortunately for Democrats, however, it is clear to me that they are rushing into the impeachment inquiry too quickly, with a lack of clarity, and no endgame in sight. As the 2020 nears, impeachment will only serve to distract from the serious and tangible issues that voters are concerned with, including health care, climate change, and the economy, leaving the Democrats once again without a positive election message.

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Earlier this week, Speaker Pelosi was asked about the clear ramifications that this lengthy and arduous inquiry will have on the prospects for Democrats in the election next year. “I solemnly swear to uphold the Constitution as long as it does not make a difference in the election. That is not the oath we take. The facts are there and we are proceeding to get further evidence as we go forward,” Pelosi responded.

While there is merit to her argument, there is a level of practicality that Democrats, and especially Pelosi, simply cannot ignore. Positively for the Democrats, in the short term, the impeachment inquiry will certainly hurt Trump. His approval rating was at a standout low in a recent CNBC poll at 37 percent. Furthermore, support for impeachment is generally rising in the United States. A recent Morning Consult poll found a slight majority of Americans at 51 percent favor an impeachment inquiry.

However, this process is still rapidly evolving and these numbers will not remain stagnant, and will fluctuate in the coming weeks and months. While the future ramifications of this inquiry remain largely uncertain, there are a few implications for the 2020 election that are clear.

For one, the media has largely overlooked the inadvertently positive impact that impeachment has had on the right. The Republican National Committee, along with Trump, raised a historic $125 million in the third quarter, including donations from 313,000 first time donors, according to the Wall Street Journal. President Obama and the Democratic National Committee only raised $70 million in the third quarter of 2011.

Biden, who was once thought to be the most likely 2020 Democratic opponent to Trump, has seen his fundraising slow and polling numbers drop in recent weeks. His once commanding double digit lead over his Democratic rivals has dwindled to just 2 points amid the Ukraine controversy, according to a recent Real Clear Politics average.

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Following the devastating news of that Senator Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE was hospitalized after a heart attack, there is much uncertainty surrounding his candidacy. It now appears that the Democratic nominee that Trump will go up against will be Senator Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE, who has steadily gained ground over the past several months, garnering immense grassroots support and bringing in an impressive fundraising haul.

Thus, the 2020 election will now almost certainly be a battle between candidates with drastically different views with Warren, a socialist who advocates for drastic economic overhaul, and Trump, a free market capitalist who is running on four more years. This increasingly likely circumstance will result in an incredibly divisive ideological war, with the fates of both campaigns hinging on a get out the vote battle.

Lastly, if Trump is impeached and not convicted, Democrats must be ready, as he and his base will be emboldened and increasingly formidable, no matter which Democratic candidate ends up taking him on.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. He is a political consultant, Fox News contributor, and the author of “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”