On Tuesday, former South Carolina governor and representative Mark Sanford ended his primary challenge against Donald Trump. If your immediate response is, “Who?” you weren’t alone. If your immediate response was “Oh wait, that ‘hiking the Appalachian Trail’ guy? He was running for president?” you also weren’t alone.
The only thing remotely interesting about Sanford’s exit was the timing. Trump is in the midst of an impeachment inquiry we’ve been assured is an existential threat to his presidency. If he survives that, how is he supposed to win next November?
The time would seem ripe for Republicans — establishment and rank-and-file alike — to abandon the president for greener (or any other) pastures.
But that’s why Sanford was doomed — and why his hopes that the impeachment inquiry would inflict a mortal wound on the Trump presidency may be doomed too.
Yes, some Republicans may be alienated by the proceedings on Capitol Hill. Others are energized — and they’re displaying that energy with their money and their time.
According to the Republican National Committee, the Trump campaign has picked up 100,000 new donors and 75,000 new volunteers through an anti-impeachment website the RNC has set up.
✔️75,000 new volunteers
✔️100,000 new donors
— Marc Lotter (@marc_lotter) November 10, 2019
That’s a tweet from Trump’s director of strategic communications, Mark Lotter. Others in the GOP structure seem to back it up.
“It didn’t seem possible to get President Trump’s supporters more fired up than they already were,” Tim Murtaugh, Trump campaign’s spokesman, told The Associated Press.
“Democrats have done it with their sham impeachment proceedings.”
“The effort reflects the Trump campaign’s confidence that the impeachment fight will not only energize his diehard supporters, but also turn off voters weary of the fighting in Washington and willing to blame Democrats for the latest battle,” the AP reported in a Sunday article.
“Trump’s campaign isn’t just waiting for voters to bring up impeachment — it’s ‘owning it,’ raising it on phone calls and door-knocks across the country, said Rick Gorka, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee. The campaign and the RNC have spent more than $10 million in impeachment-related TV ads already, with more expected in the coming weeks as Democrats begin their open hearings.”
How these numbers translate into real-world polling data regarding Trump’s impeachment is still anyone’s guess. RealClearPolitics’ polling average on the president’s impeachment and removal has held mostly steady over the past month, with 48.3 percent in favor to 45.7 opposed. While those numbers have closed somewhat, they haven’t closed substantially.
That could be taken two ways, though: Even with closed-door hearings and plenty of selective leaks, Americans are actually less convinced, albeit slightly so, that impeachment is the way forward.
And that’s just an average. A Morning Consult poll taken between Nov. 1 and Nov. 3 found that 47 percent of respondents were in favor of impeaching Trump. That was down from 51 percent in the same poll taken less than a month earlier.
This isn’t a recent phenomenon, either. In the 24 hours after Nancy Pelosi announced her impeachment inquiry, the Trump campaign took in a whopping $5 million. As of Sept. 30, the campaign had raised $165 million and the RNC had taken in $168 million — a record haul for any sitting president at this point in the campaign. He’s also adding to an impressive grassroots campaign with a groundswell of new donors.
Of course, Trump faces significant headwinds in 2020 and will no doubt need that kind of money and then some. Impeachment seems a fait accompli at this point and the Democrats are no doubt going to use that to generate windfalls of their own.
For his part, Gorka seems unafraid.
“We’re turning this into a real rallying cry for the president’s supporters,” the Trump spokesman told the AP. He also sees this as a window to reach out to another demographic: those who may not be Trump fans “but see this process for what it is, a political hit job.”
Judging by the first day of public impeachment inquiry hearings — particularly Adam Schiff’s opening remarks, which all but assumed the president’s guilt — that’s likely to be a growing cohort.
Either way, the fact that the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry seems to have coalesced support around the president should be a disheartening prospect for the left side of the aisle. And, as for any other potential Mark Sanfords looking to hike the electoral Appalachian Trail of challenging a sitting president, it looks like their opportunity has been all but foreclosed upon — no matter how impeachment goes.
Author: C. Douglas Golden
Source: Western Journal: Trump Fundraising and Volunteer Rolls Swelling Thanks to Dems’ Impeachment Sham, According to RNC