Democrats may have believed impeaching President Trump was going to put a dent in his support and election-year polling numbers, but it seems to have had the opposite effect.
Instead of feeling defeated, Trump’s supporters have been galvanized by the Democrats’ relentless efforts at removing him from office. On top of that, his approval numbers actually rose between October 2019 and February 2020 to their highest point since the start of his presidency.
As further proof, Trump is actually running on the impeachment issue instead of running away from it.
In contrast, Joe Biden, who was the Democratic frontrunner for president for most of 2019, has faltered in his bid to win the Democratic nomination.
Biden finished in fourth place in the Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primaries. If recent poll numbers are a reliable indicator, he could next face defeat in the Nevada caucuses Saturday. The following Saturday is the South Carolina primary, which Biden has said could be make or break for his campaign.
So what happened?
The signs were there late in the summer. Not only was Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) chipping away at his lead, but Biden had lackluster debate performances. He also racked up a long list of flubs and gaffes on the campaign trail, which had many questioning if he was cut out for the rough and tumble of a long presidential campaign.
In September, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the launch of the House’s impeachment inquiry. She stated it was in response to a whistleblower complaint about a July phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Among other things discussed on the call, Trump talked about how Biden bragged about how he “stopped the prosecution” of Ukrainian gas company Burisma when he was President Obama’s vice president.
Biden’s son Hunter was a board member at the time, and reportedly raked in around $600,000 per year for the five years he was on the board — despite having no experience in the energy industry.
Not long after the impeachment inquiry began, the panic started to set in for Biden’s high-dollar supporters. There were grumblings he wasn’t responding strongly or forcefully enough to the quid pro quo allegations Trump made about him and his son. To put them more at ease, Biden himself publicly called for Trump’s impeachment in early October.
But instead of retreating on the issue that was central to the Democratic impeachment effort, the Trump campaign ran ads on the Burisma/Ukraine controversy in key battleground states in the fall and winter. Included in the ads was the video clip of Joe Biden openly bragging in January 2018 about threatening to withhold foreign aid from Ukraine if they didn’t fire the prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.
During a recent interview Joe Biden did on NBC, “Today” show co-host Savannah Guthrie pointed out something rather obvious but nevertheless noteworthy about how the impeachment inquiry had played out over the last several months.
During the short segment, Biden became visibly agitated when Guthrie noted the impeachment process “has ensured that everyone knows about Hunter’s dealings with Ukraine.”
Biden snapped. “It’s a good thing that no one’s found anything wrong with his dealing with Ukraine except they say it sets a bad image,” he answered rather testily.
The problem for Biden is that Guthrie was right. The issue Biden pushed for Trump’s impeachment on was kept in the spotlight by the very nature of the impeachment inquiry process. On top of that, Biden didn’t count on the Trump campaign turning the issue to the president’s advantage.
There are a number of issues that have helped stall Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, and one of them is Burisma. He has only himself to blame for the position his campaign finds itself in now.
Stacey Matthews is a veteran blogger who has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to Red State and Legal Insurrection.