What do Democrats and Republicans agree on these days?
Here’s one thing: How impeachment will end.
Florida’s most seasoned and plugged-in experts from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly believe this is how impeachment will go down: The House, run by Democrats, will vote to impeach President Donald Trump. But the Senate, controlled by Republicans, will decide to not convict the president.
That’s what 9 in 10 of the Florida Insiders expect will happen -- unless something changes, of course. Which, let’s face it, is entirely possible in this constantly developing saga. “What a mess,” a Republican said.
What could move the needle in the Senate? Or convince House Democrats to abandon Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s march toward impeachment? The Insiders had a few suggestions.
“Keep an eye on Mitt Romney. Revenge is a dish best served cold and he has a score to settle with Trump,” said one nonpartisan said participating in the Tampa Bay Times regular Florida Insider Poll of political professionals, lobbyists, money-raisers and political scientists.
A Republican offered: “It will be interesting to see if televising the impeachment hearings has an effect on Americans. It will be unfiltered by the various slanted ‘news’ networks. Televising the Nixon impeachment hearings ultimately led to his resignation.” Another said, “Speaker Pelosi will pull the plug on impeachment after the House hearing which will fail to have a smoking gun.”
And a Democrat suggested: “The impeachment process could publicize allegations of other misdeeds by Trump besides the Ukraine mess, including tax evasion and self-dealing as president. That may affect his popularity as much as the Ukraine allegations.” On the flip side, one Republican warned: “Dems may later wish they’d simply censured, as the Senate trial, if there is one, will provide (Trump) the opportunity to call a host of witnesses the Democratic House will not allow.” What would happen if Leader Mitch McConnell calls Joe Biden and his son to testify?
The impeachment hearings aren’t taking place in a vacuum. They began less than a year until voters head to the polls and decide whether to give Trump four more years. And the Insiders are mixed on how the proceedings will move the public -- and in which direction.
Some think impeachment is costing Democrats a clear shot at the White House. As one Republican put it, “the Democrats will loose more than the presidency because of the tactics they are taking.” That’s far from the prevailing opinion though.
About 4 in 10 Insiders think the impeachment proceedings will make Trump less popular, while about half think it won’t have any effect at all. Few think Trump will come out looking better.
An optimistic Democrat predicted impeachment “a tipping point, a point in which independent minded, non-tribal voters reach the conclusion that American entrepreneurs and workers are making this economy hum, not the shameless, divisive, man-child occupying the White House. The impeachment trial will move those voters just a bit further down that path to realization.”
“The President is responsible for his own problems, and I suspect that the impeachment will erode his support and could cost him the elections,” a Republican said. "The Democrats aren’t going to go into and impeachment trial with a bluff.
Meanwhile, 30 percent said the impeachment proceedings will help Trump and 23 percent said it will give Democrats a boost. The rest? They said it’s too soon to tell or it won’t change the outlook.
“The impeachment will take up so much time on the news that the Democratic nominee will not be able to establish an identity,” one Republican said. “The election will come down to votes for Trump or against Trump.”
One Democrat said even if the country is moving in favor of impeachment, in purple Florida, "impeachment seems to be doing more to fire up the GOP base here in Florida than help the Democrats.”
Me may not have to look all the way to 2020 to guess how impeachment will play out. There was just an election in Kentucky, and a Republican governor lost in a state Trump won by 30 points. Is that a sign Democrats are changing voter minds on Trump?
About 38 percent say yes, Kentucky showed the political winds are favorable to Democrats heading into 2020. One Republican cautioned, though, that it Kentucky demonstrated it depends on who Democrats elect. “Democrats can’t win Midwestern states with progressives. They CAN win with moderates,” he said.
To that point, one Democrat lamented that Kentucky proved, “Florida should have nominated a moderate in 2018. Gwen Graham would be governor.”
That opinion is reflected in who the Insiders think give Democrats the best chance of beating Trump in 2020. The overwhelming favorite is former vice president Joe Biden; 63 percent said he would best Trump in Florida. The second choice? None -- about a quarter of respondents said none of the candidates in the field would top the incumbent Republican here.
About 20 percent think Buttigieg could win Florida, and only 16 percent give Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren the nod over Trump. That’s in the same range as Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minneapolis.
This month’s Insiders were:
Erin Aebel, Tom Alte, Jason Altmire, Fernand Amandi, Peter Antonacci , Scott Arceneaux, Dave Aronberg, Jon M. Ausman, Roger Austin, Scott Barnhart, Patrick Baskette, Alan Becker, Samuel Bell, Allan Bense, Wayne Bertsch, Taylor Biehl, Ron Bilbao, Barney Bishop III, Bob Buckhorn, Christian Camara, Tim Canova, Reggie Cardozo , Chip Case, Betty Castor, Chris Cate, Brad Coker, Robert Coker, Hunter Conrad, Brian Crowley, Husein Cumber, Richard DeNapoli, Lourdes Diaz, Pablo Diaz, Victor DiMaio, Paula Dockery, Bob Doyle, Barry Edwards, Eric Eikenberg, Mike Fasano, Peter Feaman, Mark Ferrulo, Mark Foley, Keith Frederick, Ellen Freidin, John French, Eduardo Gamarra, Wayne Garcia, Stephen Gaskill, Julia Gill Woodward, Brian Goff, Bob Graham, Ron Greenstein , Thomas Grigsby, Thomas Grigsby, Joe Gruters, Mike Hamby, Marion Hammer, Mike Hanna, Abel Harding, Alexander Heckler, Rich Heffley, Bill Helmich, Cynthia Henderson, Max Herrle, Don Hinkle, Jim Horne, Tyler Hudson, Aubrey Jewett, Jeff Johnson, Stafford Jones, doug kaplan, Fred Karlinsky, Joshua Karp, John Konkus, Chris Korge, Jeff Kottkamp, Stephanie Kunkel, Zach Learner, Bill Lee, Matt Lettelleir, Susan MacManus, Al Maloof, Javier Manjarres, William March, Nancy McGowan, Kathy Mears, David Mica, Jon Mills, Travis Moore, john morgan, Lucy Morgan, Pat Neal, Meredith Orourke , Edie Ousley , Maurizio Passariello, Alex Patton, Darryl Paulson, Jorge Pedraza, Juan Penalosa, Evelyn Pérez-Verdía, Rachel Perrin Rogers, Gretchen Picotte, JC Planas, Evan Power, David Rancourt, Ryan Ray, George Riley, Jim Rimes, Patrick Roberts, Sarah Rumpf, Ron Sachs, Tom Scherberger, Kyle Simon, Alex Sink, Patrick Slevin, Adam Smith, Susan Smith, John Stemberger, Alan Stonecipher, Phillip Thompson, Cory Tilley, Greg C. Truax, Jason Unger, Matthew Van Name, Ashley Walker, Peter Wallace, Screven Watson, Susie Wiles, Leslie Wimes, Jon Woodard , Christian Ziegler, Mark Zubaly, Christopher Dorworth , Andrew Weinstein, Chris Hand, Greg Blair, Marty Fiorentino, Samuel Neimeiser, Matt Bryan, Ryan Banfill, Mike Williams, Stephen Shiver, Tony DiMatteo, Frank Tsamoutales, April Schiff, Richard Gentry, Katie Bohnett, Jason Roth, Ana Cruz, Eric Jotkoff, Justin Day, Terrie Rizzo, Doc Dockery, Michael Barnett, Michael Dobson, Christina Johnson, Ashley Bauman, Gregory Wilson, Geoffrey Becker, Trey Stapleton, Cindy Graves, Clarnce McKee, Damien Filer, Ryan Banfill, Ron Pierce, Gus Corbella, Henry Kelley, Kartik Krishnaiyer, Stephanie Owens, Van Poole, Alex Burgos, Joe Perry, Rick Asnani, Rick Boylan, Susan Glickman.