Despite an enormous effort on the part of Democrats, public opinion on impeachment hasn’t been swayed by the impeachment hearings, and recent polls show impeachment is a huge negative in swing states. Bianna Golodryga, a CNN senior global affairs analyst, says she’s heard “rumblings” within the Democratic caucus that are suggesting the party “should just go with censure” and abandon impeachment.
“You’re now hearing rumblings within, Democrats saying, ‘Maybe we should just go with censure,’ or not really knowing how to move forward on this given where the president is and given where Republicans are,” said Golodryga, who joined CNN after stints with ABC, CBS and Yahoo News.
She pointed out that two weeks of public testimony on Trump’s dealings with Ukraine “did not move at all” the positions of Republicans ranging from moderates such as Rep. Will Hurd (Texas) to more vocal Trump defenders such as Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.).
“They said that they do not believe anything the president did was impeachable and, in fact, they seem to be protecting the president more than they were prior to these two weeks,” she said.
The only thing worse for Democrats than a party-line vote on impeachment is a failed vote on impeachment. Recent reports suggest Nancy Pelosi may postpone a vote on impeachment until after the New Year, further drawing out this process and making it harder for on-the-fence Democrats to stay in line. If visible cracks start to form in the Democratic caucus, abandoning impeachment in favor of censure might be their only play. They may even get a couple of Republicans who wouldn’t vote for impeachment to vote for censure. Sure, Trump can brag about how impeachment failed, but Democrats can pat themselves on the back and say they censured Trump.
It’s quite clear that impeachment will fail; the question is whether Democrats recognize this and have a Plan B to salvage what they can of the mess they’ve made.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis