Don’t Expect Polls to Change Republican MindsRoundup
tags: Republican Party, political history, polls, presidential history
Nicole Hemmer (@pastpunditry) is an associate research scholar at Columbia University and the author of “Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics.”
As support for both the impeachment inquiry and President Trump’s removal rises, opponents of Mr. Trump’s presidency are experiencing a long-dormant emotion: hope.
With each new poll, social media ripples with excitement. A majority supports impeachment. A plurality supports removal from office. And almost every day brings new details from the transcripts of the impeachment hearings, each with damning testimony of corruption and obstruction that promises to build even more support for removal — enough, even, to move Republicans on the issue.
But that hope springs from a false premise — that as the polls go, so goes the Republican Party. That’s no longer the case, and it hasn’t been for a generation.
You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. After all, our political mythology orbits around the power of popular will. Polls from President Richard Nixon’s waning days, when support for impeachment finally crossed the magic 50 percent mark, have rocketed across social media, their trajectory a promise as much as a piece of history: This is the tipping point, you’re almost there.
But measuring with a 1970s yardstick misses the major transformation of the Republican Party in the decades that followed, from a party that revered popular politics to one that rejected them.
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