Impeachment would be a disaster for Democrats. Or not.

So tired of pundits proclaiming this based on little evidence except for the fact that Republicans clearly over-reached in 1998 in the case against Clinton.  Fair to say, the case against Trump is different.  And dramatically more damning.  And, it also totally ignores the case of Nixon where the impeachment proceedings very much worked to turn the public against Nixon.

The truth is, it is hard to predict exactly what the response to an impeachment would be.  But that said, there’s a lot of stuff we do know that strongly argues against the case that this would be the disaster for Democrats that many pundits suggest.  Great post from Seth Masket that you should read in full.  But, the highlights:


That really shouldn’t be the standard for determining whether the president has committed impeachable offenses. But if it is, it’s worth remembering that less than 20 percent of the public favored removing Richard Nixon from office when Congress first convened its impeachment hearings. That grew slowly as more abuses of power were revealed, and a majority favored his removal only a few weeks before he resigned. The impeachment process itself can change—and has historically changed—public opinion.

Some have suggested impeachment might drive support for Trump. However, the single thing most responsible for high approval ratings for presidents is a strong economy. Trump has that, and his approval rating is mired in the low 40s at best. The idea that there’s a latent wellspring of support for Trump is not supported by evidence. [emphases mine]


Trump’s base is always stirred up! His base was never going to sit back and let the 2020 presidential election season unfold like normal. A plan to not stir up Trump’s base is like a plan to bring a baby to a Bruce Springsteen concert but to sit near the back so it won’t wake up.


It is not a constitutional crisis to follow procedures delineated in the Constitution. It is a constitutional crisis to ignore those procedures when they are warranted because they’re not politically convenient.

Short version: the right thing to do for our democracy is to impeach the demonstrably unfit President.  There may be a political cost to undertaking the procedure to do so.  An uncertain short-term political cost (which doesn’t actually seem all that likely) is not a sufficient reason to uphold basic pillars of democracy and the rule of law.  And, impeaching Trump– whether he is removed or not– is damn well upholding basic pillars of democracy and the rule of law which his presidency is eroding on a daily basis.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Impeachment would be a disaster for Democrats. Or not.

  1. Jim Danielson says:

    “However, the single thing most responsible for high approval ratings for presidents is a strong economy.”

    This is a damning indictment of a large number of American’s poor of knowledge of economics, poor knowledge of the lack of power of the presidency to actually direct the economy (how the American political system works), and worst, their lack of ethics.
    The “I’ve got mine, F everything and everyone else.” The attitude seems to be endemic in Republicans.

    And an indictment of some Democrats naivety regarding Republicans willingness to drive their own base into a raging froth for any reason at all, as long as it gets them to the polls. Even if they have to lie.

    By now one would think Democrats would have figured this out. How thick can they possibly be?

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