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Nancy Pelosi has a major impeachment problem

House Democrats look well-positioned to retake the House majority in the midterm elections, fueled by their ...

Posted: Sep 12, 2018 3:09 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2018 3:09 PM

House Democrats look well-positioned to retake the House majority in the midterm elections, fueled by their base's animosity toward President Donald Trump and absolutely committed to using the vote in 55 days' time to send a message to him.

Should the energized Democratic base deliver Nancy Pelosi the speakership she lost in the 2010 election, it would be a remarkable journey for the California Democrat, who has weathered eight years of speculation about her political future and growing calls within her caucus for her to step aside.

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It would also present Pelosi with a massive dilemma -- as made plain by a new CNN-SSRS poll released on Wednesday morning.

Asked whether they believe that Trump "should be impeached and removed from office," or not, 47% said Trump should be impeached while 48% said they don't feel that way. Support for Trump's impeachment has grown from 42% in a CNN-SSRS poll conducted earlier this summer. (By comparison, 29% of people said then-President Barack Obama should be impeached and 70% said they didn't feel that way in a CNN poll conducted in late November 2014.)

Those numbers, on their face, are stunning. Less than two years into Trump's term, half the country would like to see him impeached. Like, now.

But dig into the party and ideological breakdowns of that impeachment questions, and Pelosi's potential dilemma becomes very, very clear. Almost eight in 10 (78%) Democrats believe Trump should be impeached immediately, while only 16% don't feel that way. The numbers among self-described "liberals" are nearly the same; 79% want Trump impeached as compared to 17% who don't.

You don't have to be a political genius to see the writing on the wall there: hardcore Democrats, the sort who are likely to turn out in droves come November 6, want Trump gone. Or at the very least, they want their leadership to push for articles of impeachment to be brought against him.

Which brings me back to Pelosi. She has been crystal clear for the last several months that she believes talking about impeaching Trump is a major mistake for her party. "I do not think that impeachment is a policy agenda," she told CNN's Chris Cuomo back in May. Last month, after longtime Trump attorney and personal fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a number of charges including campaign finance violations, in which he suggested Trump was an active part of an effort to conceal hush payments to two women alleging affairs, Pelosi remained adamant that impeachment was not the right choice for the party. She called it "not a priority," adding: "Impeachment has to spring from something else."

As the new CNN poll shows, that stance puts Pelosi out-of-step with the overwhelming majority of her party's base. Which, politically speaking, is never a good place to be.

Now. Pelosi's arguments about impeachment deal with the here and now. Wary of handing Trump and Republicans an issue to campaign on, she has sought to downplay the idea in the context of the midterms. (Trump, of course, has seized on the idea of Democrats pushing for impeachment -- asking how he could possibly be impeached when he is doing such a good job.) Pelosi's stance on not talking about impeachment right now, her allies would argue, doesn't preclude her from embracing such a move post-election if circumstances change. In fact, Pelosi has nodded to the ongoing special counsel probe by Robert Mueller as something that needs to play out before the party even seriously engages with the idea of impeachment.

But for now the fact remains: Pelosi, who is widely seen as the next speaker of the House if Democrats can re-take the majority in 55 days' time, is not in the same place as the preponderance of the rank-and-file within her party on the impeachment question. It speaks, I think, to the broader disconnect between a base that wants to employ any means necessary to obstruct and remove Trump, and a party establishment -- even among avowed liberals like Pelosi -- that remains concerned over the potential political backlash to the move.

I've covered too many of Pelosi's successful leadership elections to predict that her dilemma on impeachment could lead to her defeat for the top job if Democrats take back the House. But it does speak to a larger divide within the party that will play out between now and 2020 as Democratic politicians try to find the right way to position themselves against Trump.

If the CNN poll is any indication, for the base, the more anti-Trump and pro-impeachment you are, the better.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1560117

Reported Deaths: 20796
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2118112563
Lake1021301523
Allen964791027
Hamilton75541551
St. Joseph66476761
Elkhart51045634
Vanderburgh50511531
Tippecanoe45721338
Johnson39600527
Hendricks37933463
Porter35132476
Madison30330547
Clark27296331
Vigo26401347
Monroe24100249
LaPorte23921313
Howard23237381
Delaware22453370
Hancock19314220
Bartholomew18980216
Kosciusko18400204
Warrick17733216
Wayne16982303
Floyd16686257
Grant15966300
Morgan15091232
Boone13924138
Dearborn12235113
Shelby12225152
Noble12170142
Henry12027202
Dubois11696152
Marshall11625171
Jackson11111104
Cass10578143
Lawrence10529221
Huntington10523140
DeKalb10482132
Gibson10114127
Montgomery9671144
Harrison9471117
Knox9415125
Whitley902571
Steuben8934105
Putnam8542100
Miami8533135
Clinton849397
Jasper8462116
Jefferson8319127
Wabash8027140
Ripley7504117
Scott685787
Adams6829103
Daviess6825130
White638184
Greene6317112
Clay628975
Decatur6261121
Jennings619781
Wells6090121
Fayette6054122
Posey580148
LaGrange549097
Randolph5364129
Washington528071
Owen5211100
Fountain493681
Spencer467456
Sullivan462066
Fulton450993
Orange449784
Starke448887
Rush433941
Jay432564
Perry409155
Carroll394749
Franklin394650
Vermillion370762
Pike334246
Parke331239
Tipton330475
Blackford282255
Pulaski281775
Brown239856
Newton239761
Benton228921
Crawford224932
Switzerland207914
Martin196722
Warren183922
Union178119
Ohio129216
Unassigned0763

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2515949

Reported Deaths: 31987
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2719422100
Cuyahoga2606673087
Hamilton1758091756
Montgomery1177451651
Summit1089011418
Lucas935321193
Butler83907963
Stark771001431
Lorain64214809
Warren53428489
Mahoning51224930
Lake47591611
Clermont46928452
Delaware41107220
Trumbull39746790
Licking38790416
Medina38646427
Fairfield35828349
Greene34313435
Portage32429366
Clark32361453
Richland29653444
Wood29379301
Allen25875403
Miami24243408
Muskingum23564255
Columbiana23046409
Wayne22093365
Tuscarawas19637428
Marion18616235
Erie18608224
Ashtabula18569362
Scioto18159214
Ross17594260
Pickaway16419181
Hancock16115232
Geauga15511229
Lawrence15094186
Belmont14236248
Union1419584
Huron13908184
Jefferson13656261
Sandusky13268200
Athens12877107
Knox12160201
Seneca12055204
Darke11440202
Ashland11248184
Washington11152172
Auglaize10873147
Crawford10432178
Shelby10402160
Brown10094145
Highland9746151
Fulton9726154
Guernsey9683122
Defiance9567137
Logan9470147
Clinton9428132
Mercer9099112
Madison9032111
Preble8524170
Williams8305138
Putnam8069136
Champaign8040113
Ottawa7971123
Jackson7848121
Perry7514102
Coshocton7411136
Morrow729184
Fayette715992
Pike666689
Hardin6564133
Gallia638891
Adams6227127
Van Wert6065121
Henry602596
Hocking5918105
Wyandot503594
Carroll5009101
Holmes4880167
Paulding426465
Meigs400974
Monroe316468
Harrison299162
Noble296952
Morgan292748
Vinton258646
Unassigned08
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