Juan Williams: Midterms will be referendum on Trump

Juan Williams: Midterms will be referendum on Trump

With less than six months to go to the midterm elections, Republicans think they have Democrats in an impeachment trap.

Seventy percent of Democrats in recent polling from Quinnipiac University say they will vote for a midterm candidate who plans to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE.

But 84 percent of Republicans say they’re ready to oppose any candidate planning on impeachment.


And overall, the Quinnipiac polling shows 55 percent of voters don’t want Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings.


An April NPR/PBS/Marist survey found 47 percent voters would "definitely" vote against a candidate who campaigned on impeaching Trump while 42 percent said they would “definitely” vote for the candidate who ran on impeachment.

So, with the president’s consistently low approval ratings and a record number of retirements, desperate Republicans have fixated on the threat of impeachment to fire up GOP voters.

But House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win Congress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks MORE (D-Calif.) is making clear she is not getting on the impeachment bandwagon. Even as she has referred to the president as a “jerk,” she has also said talk of impeachment is a “distraction” and a “gift” to Republicans.

She recently told the Dallas Morning News that impeachment doesn’t appeal to swing voters — read that as moderate, white suburbanites — ready to vote against Republican House candidates to show their disappointment with Trump. 

“What people want to know,” Pelosi said, “is what are you doing to help me in my life? How [am I] going to educate my kids or pay the rent or mortgage, medical bills…They think [impeachment] is an excuse not to have solutions.”

Left-wing hero Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 MORE (I-Vt.) has come out in agreement with Pelosi’s assessment.

Still, GOP ad-makers will use impeachment as a boogeyman to frighten their voters to the polls.

Now the tough question for Democrats is, why should they give up talking about impeachment when it might help rouse their voter turnout?

The party’s base of educated white women, young people, blacks, Hispanics and gays are notorious for not showing up at the polls in midterms. But their fury with Trump is real; hearing House Democrats pledge to stop Trump is a sure bet to energize the anti-Trump resistance.

This spring’s Democratic primaries have made it clear that populist, anti-Trump candidates are the choice for Democratic voters. Centrist candidates in the Democratic primaries — even with backing from the Democratic National Committee — are losing to unapologetic, anti-Trump liberals.

Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Next 24 hours critical for stalled funding talks Democrat vows to move forward with impeachment, dividing his party Citing Virginia race scandals, Dem vows vote to impeach Trump MORE (D-Texas) speaks with passion about the need for impeachment.

Calling Trump a “jerk,” as Pelosi did, only “trivializes the impact of his bigoted policies on Jews, Latinos, African Americans, women and the LGBT community,” Green said in a statement earlier this month. In fact, he thinks Trump represents “the quintessential” president that “impeachment was designed for.”

The same powerful message is coming from Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Lawmakers closing in on border deal | Dems build case for Trump tax returns | Trump, Xi won't meet before trade deadline | Waters in talks with Mnuchin for testimony Waters in talks with Mnuchin for testimony on lifting of sanctions on Russian firms Fox's Kilmeade: Why doesn't Trump investigate personal finances of Schiff and Waters? MORE (D-Calif.), another black Democrat.

Last month, after Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, she tweeted: "How long do we have to suffer his gigantic ego and narcissistic behavior? Impeachment is the only answer."

The impeachment camp also has a strong supporter in billionaire Tom Steyer, who is buying abundant television advertising intended to advance that cause. He is also holding a series of rallies calling for impeachment.

“Are we actually going to do what the writers of the Constitution, the founders of our country gave us to do if we have a reckless and lawless president? Or are we going to try and slip it under the rug and pretend it's not happening?” Steyer told ABC News this month.

But note that last year, the House voted to kill an impeachment resolution by a vote of 364-58. The vote tally showed that 126 Democrats joined all House Republicans in voting it down.

And Democrats, including Pelosi, can read the polls.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Congressional Republicans leading for the first time this cycle on the important generic ballot question.

According to Reuters, 38 percent of voters said they would vote for a Republican if midterms were held today, compared to 37 percent who said they would vote for a Democrat. The result shows the Democrats’ polling lead on generic preference for Congressional candidates is all but gone.

But the game is far from over. As November gets closer, the Democrats’ base is primed to extend their current enthusiasm advantage over GOP voters. In special elections, the Senate race in Alabama and several gubernatorial races, the Democrats have turned out and produced wins.

And don’t forget, even Trump’s base voters are disappointed by his failure to build the border wall, repeal ObamaCare, drain the swamp and bring back the jobs lost to international trade.

Republicans are also disappointed that Trump’s tax cuts for the rich have increased the deficit.

Republican strategists don’t want to talk about those problems; they prefer to rally the base with talk about impeachment.

Last week, Trump tried to lower expectations by saying with a smile he is “not sure I really believe,” that the midterms will be as important as his 2016 win.

Unless Trump fires the special prosecutor, talk of impeachment remains a sideshow. It is not going to decide the outcome in November. 

Trump is too big. The election will be a referendum on him. 

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.