A public skirmish broke out over the weekend, between former Obama strategy guru David Axelrod and left-wing billionaire Tom Steyer. Steyer, whose expensive vanity project (and email list-building scheme) has been whipping up the Democratic base to support action on impeachment against President Trump, did not take kindly to Axelrod's stern warning that the party would be foolish to go down that path without strong evidence of criminal offenses. The party professionals seem to recognize that 'I-word' overreach represents a motivating factor for Republican voters heading into the fall elections, as well as a needless alienation risk for many independents. But the base hates Trump and smells blood, so many lefty activists are taking Steyer's side in this spat:
Dems should NOT commit to impeachment unless & until there’s a demonstrable case for one.— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) April 8, 2018
It is not just a matter of politics. It’s a matter of principle.
If we “normaiize” impeachment as a political tool, it will be another hammer blow to our democracy.https://t.co/vTcaDfknlC
A December poll showed that seven in ten Democratic voters believe the House should begin the impeachment process in 2019 if Democrats win back the chamber. A substantial majority of indies disagree, as do nearly all Republicans. If Nancy Pelosi's crew regains Congressional control in the fall, there will be enormous pressure coming from the ravenous, emboldened Left to move forward on this front, potentially opening up a rift within the center-left and complicating their collective strategy against the White House. If you doubt what the base is demanding, look no further than Texas, where Ted Cruz's general election opponent has waded into the impeachment waters. One might imagine that a Democratic challenger in a conservative red state would do his best to separate himself from the Resistance. Not Beto O'Rourke. Even with some words of caution and caveats, he says he'd vote to impeach Trump:
That's not merely some idle, hypothetical musing; O'Rourke is a sitting member of the House and he's now on the record as on board to help get the impeachment and removal process underway. Add this to the growing list of his hard-left views, including an embrace of NRA-attacking gun control and hardcore abortion extremism. Allahpundit surmises that he's all but given up on winning this Texas race (the early tea leaves were not good anyway), placing a gamble on pandering to the committed Left in order to pull in big donations from out-of-state liberals, build his national profile, and set himself up for a future contest once that elusive Democratic lurch finally arrives in his state. Plus, the likelihood that he'll get Fully Wendy'd, and therefore become a toxic loser, is lower in a Democratic year. Meanwhile, because Democrats keep bringing it up, Republicans are happy to talk about the prospect of Congressional Democrats maneuvering to remove the duly-elected President of the United States from office absent, any bona fide cause:
The appeals have become a surefire way for candidates to raise small contributions from grass-roots conservatives who are devoted to Mr. Trump, veteran Republican fund-raisers say. But party strategists also believe that floating the possibility of impeachment can also act as a sort of scared-straight motivational tool for turnout. Last week, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas used his re-election kickoff rally to introduce a video featuring a faux news anchor reading would-be headlines were conservatives not to vote in November. “Senate Majority Leader Schumer announced the impeachment trial of President Trump,” one of the anchors says.
How helpful of O'Rourke to directly play into Cruz's non-kooky scenario. Whether the specter of impeachment will be enough to light a fire under GOP voters to stave off a blue wave remains to be seen. I still suspect that this potential situation could be a stronger motivator. But what continues to be clear is that the Republican electorate's intensity is getting lapped by that of their Democratic counterparts, mirroring more shades of 2010-in-reverse. On that point, I'll leave you with a new data point from Harvard's polling of young voters. Determination to vote this fall among 18-29 year old Democratic leaners (Democrats enjoy a significant edge among this demographic) is up double-digits over Republicans:
Youth participation outpacing all other recent midterms covered in @HarvardIOP poll. Young Democrats nearly 2x as likely to vote as in 2014. Check out details and run your own crosstabs here: https://t.co/Yuv7dXmwQ8 #Millennials #youthvote pic.twitter.com/IakzX6Pj73— John Della Volpe (@dellavolpe) April 10, 2018