Democracia y PolíticaJusticia

How Joe Biden’s strong polling makes Trump’s impeachment less likely

Joe Biden’s polling surge after announcing his presidential run has uprooted assumptions about the ideological nature of the Democratic electorate in a way that reinforces the decision by House Democratic leaders to avoid impeaching President Trump.

Right now, liberals are engaged in a debate over the merits of impeaching Trump, even as they broadly agree that he is corrupt and should be subjected to aggressive oversight by Democrats. Generally, there are three camps. One view, which has been basically adopted by Democratic leaders, is that impeachment would be unpopular and pointless given Republican control of the Senate, and could even distract from efforts to hold Trump accountable. Jonathan Bernstein made this case at Bloomberg recently. A more middle-ground view has been pushed by Greg Sargent at the Washington Post, who has urged Democrats to at least open up an impeachment inquiry, arguing that it would give more legal weight to their oversight requests in the ongoing standoff with Trump over testimony and documents. Then of course there’s the «impeach the mother f—er« school. On this front, Crooked’s Brian Beutler has made the case that by effectively taking impeachment off the table, Democrats have greenlighted more brazen bad behavior from Trump.

Ultimately, for Democrats, impeachment was always going to be a political decision. Once the Robert Mueller report came out without establishing collusion or providing a conclusive answer on obstruction, there was no longer going to be a political cost to Republicans opposing impeachment. The question became: Will the uproar from liberal activists demanding impeachment gain so much steam within the party that it will be impossible to avoid, no matter the risks?

That’s where the Biden surge comes in. The Biden candidacy, in many respects, has come to represent a test for the strength of the party’s Left, which is very vocal and influential on social media. In the run-up to his candidacy, Biden was subject to an avalanche of criticism for past positions and statements that were seen as out of touch with the modern Democratic Party. Many assumed that as soon as he announced his candidacy and more of his record came to light, he would quickly fizzle. This has not happened yet. Quite the contrary. Biden has soared to around 40% in polls, which is extremely impressive in a race with over 20 candidates running, and nobody is within 20 points of him. He has left the door open for impeachment, but for now has merely pushed for more follow-up investigations.

«Biden’s apparent resurrection from relic to runaway front-runner has illustrated a chasm between perception and reality,» New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait wrote. «The triumph of the left is somewhere between a movement ahead of its time and a bubble that has just popped.»

As long as Biden’s surge continues to fuel perceptions that very liberal Twitter is not representative of the broader Democratic Party, it’s even less likely that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will be convinced to abandon her skeptical stance regarding impeachment.

This dynamic could change, of course, if Biden suddenly drops like a rock and is overtaken by one of the more strident liberal candidates. But we’re at the stage now where the state of the 2020 Democratic primary is likely to help set the tone for what happens in Congress. And right now, the message being sent is that there is no penalty for resisting the demands of the Left.



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