A poll conducted May 17-20 by the Harris Poll for the Harvard Center for American Political Studies sheds light on pubic attitudes about collusion between the Trump Administration and Russia in the 2016 election and prospects for impeachment of President Trump. Among the findings, as reported by Jonathan Easley exclusively for The Hill:
…54 percent of voters said they have not seen evidence to suggest that Trump campaign officials conspired with Moscow to influence the 2016 election….Respondents were largely split along partisan lines, with 80 percent of Republicans saying there is no evidence of collusion and 74 percent of Democrats saying there is. Only 38 percent of independents said there is evidence of collusion.
When voters were asked, irrespective of the evidence, whether they believe that Trump campaign officials had coordinated with Moscow, 52 percent said no and 48 percent said yes. A majority of independents, 54 percent, didn’t think there was any collusion.
Among Democrats, 66 percent believe Trump will be impeached, while only 36 percent of independents and 20 percent of Republicans believe the same…“Right now nearly 60 percent believe impeachment will go nowhere, though a majority of Democrats think it will and so there is great potential for … disappointment among the party base,” said Harvard-Harris Poll Co-Director Mark Penn.
In addition, “A majority, 52 percent, said it was inappropriate for the president to have divulged sensitive classified information” to the Russians, “including 56 percent of independents.”
Meanwhile Nate Silver reports at fivethirtyeight.com that “people putting money on the line are taking impeachment seriously. According to the prediction market Betfair, the chance that Trump will fail to serve out his four-year term is about 50 percent (!). There’s even a 20 to 25 percent probability (!!) that Trump doesn’t finish out 2017 in office, these bettors reckon.”
Silver proceeds with an exhaustive analysis of impeachment prospects based on what little data is available and historic experience, and he cautions “this is a thought experiment and not a mathematical model.” But Silver adds, “I do think I owe you a range, however. I’m pretty sure I’d sell Trump-leaves-office-early stock (whether because of removal from office or other reasons) at even money (50 percent), and I’m pretty sure I’d buy it at 3-to-1 against (25 percent). I could be convinced by almost any number within that range.”
All of the above taken into account, Democrats don’t yet have reason enough to make impeachment of Trump their top priority. Indeed, as Jeff Alson has persuasively argued in In These Times, there are good strategic reasons for Democrats to avoid “the impreachment trap.” Better to let the Republicans take the lead on it and divide their party, while Democrats focus on building a strong midterm campaign.
Given Trump’s recklessness, however, and the mounting revelations of his administration’s collusion with the Russians to interfere in our 2016 presidential elections, at some point Democrats could be perceived as shirking their duty to protect our national security, if they don’t take impeachment action. Determining the best approach may require daily recalibration, but at least the Democrats don’t have the increasingly bad menu of choices facing the Republicans.