OPINION: Why Democrats win even if they lose


AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrives as defense arguments by the Republicans resume in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020.

There will be many things that could decide the 2020 elections and whether President Donald Trump gets reelected or not. The economy could fall into a hole, war with Iran could heat up, or perhaps most importantly, the Senate’s decision whether to convict Trump of two impeachable offenses or not. It’s looking likely the Senate will acquit the President on both charges but the damage had already been done to this administration and it will show the people how corrupt he truly is heading into the upcoming election. 

Already the process has become much more polarizing compared to Bill Clinton’s impeachment in early 1999. The Republican majority worked with the Democrat minority to make sure it was at least fair and even then the public was against impeachment from the start based on polling done by Gallup at the time. In today’s highly polarized climate there’s a slight majority (around 50-51 percent) in favor of it according to polling done by 538. That majority sees that Trump’s offenses exposed this country to harm compared to a personal relationship Clinton had in the Oval Office. Abuse of power by withholding aid from Ukraine in exchange for information on 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden. The other being obstruction of Congress for trying to stall and fight impeachment by not having officials not comply with subpoenas and release information to committees.

Looking at it from a partisan lens, there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to convict the sitting President of either offense with Republicans holding 53 seats compared to Democrats with 47. With fears of backlash from the President and the conservative base it isn’t looking likely that there will be many crossover votes from the Republicans to convict him. Trump critics like Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake have left Congress because they weren’t being well received by the people who voted them in. Some were even defeated in primary challenges like Rep. Mark Sanford who never embraced the administration. This tells many GOP senators to vote no on both articles or face the threat of backlash from the President and party voters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has been working to ensure that this trial gets done quickly, which is both good and bad. Good because the outcome is decided sooner rather than later, but bad because it’s not looking likely this will be a fair trial. Calls for allowing additional witnesses are still up in the air but an emerging group of bi-partisan senators looks to continue the trial while providing some integrity to it.

While it’s likely President Trump will not be convicted, the Democrats will be the ones with the advantage in the end. Yes, Trump supporters have been fired up over this issue, but the moderate-liberal left has been building upon its momentum since Trump was elected. Voters have been coming out and voting in unprecedented and historically high numbers. Those numbers translated to the Democrats capturing the House of Representatives and taking control of many state governments in the last 3 years.

The vote will put key senators in tough positions across many swing states. Only one Democrat is considered extremely vulnerable in 2020 – Doug Jones of ruby-red Alabama – while upwards of nine  Republicans from Colorado to Maine will have to work extra hard to keep their seats. Democrats only need to pick up four seats to take control of the chamber (or three if they win the Presidency.) So while it’s going to be a dead heat for who wins, the odds are looking much better for the Democrats compared to 2018 when they were defending more seats than the Republicans.

The upcoming 2020 election is even more important after the vote. If the vote ends with acquittal, there are still many months to go until the election and there are a lot of other issues that could crop up in voter’s minds. It could end up not mattering at all if the party sticks to its principles and keeps the heat on the President for his other policies that are seen as unpopular. 

Republicans defending Trump has already put Democrats on the moral high ground when it comes to the long term. Today a lot of people see this as just partisan bickering on both sides but history is the true judge of one’s legacy. The midterm elections of 1974 saw large gains for Democrats after Richard Nixon resigned amidst the Watergate investigation and that eventually culminated in the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976. Resignation meant to a lot of people he was guilty of his crimes and today most see Nixon as one of the worst Presidents in U.S. history.

The same will be said about Trump’s legacy who has already made many strides to become one of the most unpopular presidents ever. The impeachment trial will open people’s eyes to see him for what he truly is and will vote him out of office in 2020. While Trump will most likely celebrate his acquittal it will be the Democrats who will have the last laugh.