It’s Going to Take A Lot More for Republicans to Impeach Trump

A recent Quinnipiac poll has Trump’s approval rating down to 37 percent, prompting Robert Reich to predict that “if his approval rating sinks much below this on the way to the 2018 midterms, congressional Republicans will impeach him.”

I’m pretty confident we are not anywhere near that point, for two reasons:

  1. Trump remains popular with Republicans.

It’s true, as Reich says, that the Quinnipiac poll shows that “53 percent say he’s dishonest, 52 percent say he doesn’t care about average Americans, 62 percent say he’s not level-headed.” But even so, 77% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Trump. 89% are “optimistic about the next four years with Donald Trump as president. 76% think he will be a better president than Barack Obama. And so on. The message is, despite concerns about his honesty and temperament, Republicans still like Trump a lot. And Republicans in the House will not impeach a president who is popular with Republicans, no matter how unpopular he is with the country as a whole.

2. Impeaching an unpopular Trump will not help Republicans in Congress in the 2018 midterms.

Richard Nixon was impeached in 1974, which was a midterm year. Democrats controlled the House, but there were seven Republicans on House Judiciary Committee who voted for at least one of the three articles of impeachment against Nixon. The only one to vote for all three was Lawrence Hogan, father of current Maryland governor Larry Hogan. Lawrence Hogan ran for governor of Maryland in 1974 and lost in the Republican primary because of his abandonment of Nixon. One of the other seven, Harold Froehlich, lost his reelection campaign. Republicans overall lost 48 seats — about one out of every four Republicans. This even though in the end, almost every Republican voted to impeach Nixon — the House floor vote was 410–4.

Republicans lost seats in the House because Nixon became very unpopular and he was a Republican. Even Republicans who had been early and outspoken in supporting Nixon’s impeachment lost.

If Republicans today want to keep their seats, their best strategy is to make Trump as popular as possible. That means not impeaching him. Some might distance themselves, as many did during the campaign. But nothing short of undeniable evidence that Trump is actually a Russian agent will get them to impeach Trump.

Update: House Republicans seem to understand this, as they are already running interference for Trump.