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University of Delaware professors Philip E. Jones, Ph.D. (left) and Paul R. Brewer, Ph.D.
By Justin Richards, University of Delaware junior and intern for the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication
DECEMBER 19, 2019―With 11 months left until the general election, University of Delaware political experts Phil Jones and Paul Brewer weighed in on the impeachment of President Donald Trump and the upcoming Democratic presidential primaries. Following the historic vote in the United States House of Representatives to impeach President Donald J. Trump, University of Delaware faculty offered their perspectives on what's next in the U.S. Senate and in the Democratic primaries.
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Brewer, a communication professor and Center for Political Communication research director, said that Republicans in the United States Senate are unlikely to move away from supporting President Trump. "It is kind of like a cycle where Republican leaders are not going to support impeachment as long as Republican voters don't. But Republican voters aren't going to support it as long as Republican leaders present a fairly united front give or take a few people like Senators Ben Sasse or Mitt Romney."
Jones, a political science professor and CPC affiliated faculty member, disagreed slightly with this premise, arguing more that any shift in support will depend on the leaders themselves. For the party line to change at all, it would be because someone takes a stand against the party leaders. "Pretty rare that voters all on their own make up their minds to run in one direction and politicians follow. I think much more common is that politicians will say that this is what the Republican Party stands for, and people fall in line," said Jones.
Some evidence suggests that moderate candidates fare better electorally than more ideologically extreme candidates, said Brewer. "I think Elizabeth Warren has benefited somewhat in that Bernie Sanders has been in the race and Democrat primary voters perceive her as being between Sanders and Biden. They might perceive her as being more moderate than they would without Sanders there as a contrast."
Despite the united front by Democrats on impeachment and the defense of former Vice President Joe Biden on Ukraine accusations, Biden's campaign may struggle even after an impeachment trial, Brewer said. "Given the source, a lot of Democrats might not believe these allegations about Biden. But in a general election, even unfounded allegations can be potentially damaging. I think the Biden campaign has a lot to figure out going forward on how to deal with this."
The Iowa caucuses will be held on February 3, and the New Hampshire primary is set for February 11.