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 TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE.

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

ADVERTISEMENT

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 PelosiDem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Russia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Pelosi calls on Ryan to bring long-term Violence Against Women Act to floor 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) SandersWarren joins Sanders in support of striking McDonald's workers Kavanaugh allegations could be monster storm brewing for midterm elections      Senate approves 4B spending bill 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. GreenImpeachment will be at the top of Democrats' agenda if they take the House majority Panetta: Dems shouldn't get ahead of themselves on impeachment Pence on Dems impeaching Trump: ‘I take them at their word’ 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 WatersKavanaugh hires attorney amid sexual assault allegations: report Scalise: Democrats need to denounce political violence Women wield sizable power in ‘Me Too’ midterms 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.