Trump impeachment: This is how president will twist historic vote to try and win reelection in 2020

News analysis: President already raising - and spending - millions of dollars on back of Democrats' censure

Andrew Buncombe
Thursday 19 December 2019 02:25 GMT
Donald Trump calls impeachment hearings 'bull***' and claims doctor told him 'show us that gorgeous chest'

For an insight into how furious Donald Trump is about being impeached in a process he dismissed as a witch hunt, look no further than his Twitter feed.

“Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!,” he wrote.

And for an insight into how Trump is seeking to twist these events to his favour, look no further than his travel schedule. As members of the House were passing two articles of impeachment against him, Trump was making his way to the battleground state of Michigan for an evening rally with supporters.

It is unclear if Trump genuinely believes he has been mistreated. He has spent so much of his life getting whatever he wants, that he may have thought he could do the same once he entered the White House.

Yet for all his braggadocio, and his insulting of the Democrats, he understands that impeachment by the House is a dark mark on his presidency, even if he is saved by Republicans in the Senate. Just three presidents have undergone such censure, and Trump is the only one to then have been impeached and then sought reelection.

As such, we have no real precedent for how this will impact his chances in 2020. Republican operative Matt Mackowiak, says most people have already made up their minds about the president. He says little emerged during the impeachment hearings to change people’s opinions.

“I don’t think it will make much of a difference,” he says.

But Donna Edwards, who served as the Democratic congresswoman from Maryland’s 4th congressional district from 2008 to 2017, argues impeachment is a stain that will impact the 2020 campaign.

“It’s a black mark on his presidency and I think it will carry over into the general election,” she says. She argues polls suggest support for impeachment among independent voters, that small segment of Americans whose support is coveted by both parties, has steadily grown.

Donald Trump: I take zero responsibility for impeachment

“The only thing we know in this country, is that the independents are the battleground to be fought for,” she adds.

While Trump’s approval rating at times dipped to an historic low, it has, since February 2018, never slipped beneath 39.5 per cent, according to a tracker maintained by the website FiveThirtyEight.

It currently stands at 43.3 per cent, along with a disapproval rating of 51.9 per cent. Commentators have marvelled at how solid that support has been, despite every controversy.

The president’s support has remained very consistent
The president’s support has remained very consistent

It is uncertain whether Trump can win over new supporters with his brash, unrepentant and at times racist rhetoric. What we do know, is that in 2016, a few thousand Americans spread across the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, were enough to win him the presidency via the electoral college system, despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by three million votes.

Trump is using social media to target such voters again, using money he and the Republicans are raising on the back of the impeachment “witch hunt”.

Time reported how, since Nancy Pelosi’s 24 September announcement that Democrats were pursuing an impeachment probe, the party had raised millions of dollars for the 2020 campaign. In the first three days after Pelosi’s statement, it had received $15m (£11.6m) in small-dollar donations, compared to the $500,000 (£390,000) collected most days.

And every week, the Trump campaign has been spending more than $1m on political adverts on Facebook, a platform that does not check the factual accuracy of such material.

“Trump is always aggrieved, and he usually mentions each grievance a lot in tweets and rallies,” says Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia. “He’ll do the same with impeachment, in part to remind his base that their great President is a martyr for them.”

We are even seeing it play out in real time. On Wednesday, before the vote in the House started, Trump emailed his supporters.

“No president ever could have endured or passed this many witch hunts. The only reason I’m still standing is because I have the POWER OF THE PEOPLE on my side, I have you,” he wrote.

“Before the upcoming vote, I want to post another HUGE fundraising number to ensure that we have the resources to win this IMPEACHMENT WAR. I’m calling on my most FIERCE and LOYAL defenders to step up.”

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