No, Republican Senators Can't Be Persuaded

A floating and wasted narrative that House impeachment managers will somehow, miraculously, change Senate "jurors" minds

Publisher’s Riff

for more analysis, listen to Reality Check on WURD, Mon-Wed 10am ET streamed live at, in Philly on 96.1 FM / 900 AM | #RealityCheck @ellisonreport

Image result for senate impeachment trial

There is a question inserted in the discussion after each day of riveting - and rather emotional - House impeachment manager opening argument that asks: “Have any minds been changed?” Such a question gives “jurors” in the Senate Republican caucus the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they are taking the process seriously and actually being deliberative. There is presupposition that, indeed, maybe the needed number of fearful GOP Senators will eventually come around, overcome with such guilt and shame by the wave of evidence presented that they will feel compelled to convict the president. That question also assumes they really want to examine more evidence.

Stop asking that question.

While it’s very difficult to accept the conventional wisdom that American elected officials, especially ones who apply draconian “Constitutional” purity tests on everyone else, are actually going to vote against the Constitution, it is what it is. Four days of what everyone else (including Trump supporters, both avid and reluctant) knows is about as slam dunk a case any impeachment prosecution team has ever presented in the few times this has happened won’t make much difference. Continued wishful thinking that it will convert 20 Republican Senators is much like that scene from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom where the scared girl attempts to protect herself from the snarling stinky-breath Indoraptor by hiding under a bed sheet. Everyone knew the sheet wasn’t going to work.

Republicans are not concerned about Constitutional integrity. They’re concerned about the best have-it-both-ways electoral optics: being able to make acquittal of the president seem reasonable, to shed themselves of guilt, through allowing just enough trial process for Democrats to get several full days of presentation. Republicans know the presidents staunchest supporters won’t even watch that since Fox News coverage has completely muted out the audio of impeachment manager opening arguments, as Pew Research shows …

Republicans place trust in one source, Fox News, far more than any other …Ideology adds another layer to party-line divides of most trusted and distrusted news sources

Much has been made of these recent polls showing most Americans want witnesses and they want more evidence in the Senate impeachment trial. Here’s that compilation

But, ultimately, the number to pay the most attention to is the slim majority of Americans who either don’t believe Trump committed a crime and/or believe he shouldn’t be removed from office. This is where Republicans find an out: lack of collective American appetite for the perceived disruption removal might bring, regardless of how obvious the crime and regardless of how much others have been prosecuted or jailed for much, much less.

In that ABC News/Washington Post poll, Americans are calling for witnesses - but, a slim majority still wants Trump to stay in office

It’s nearly identical in the Politico/Morning Consult poll

Just a slim majority approves of conviction and removal in the CNN poll

Be suspicious of the 14 percent who say they “don’t know” in this AP-NORC poll

Reuters/Ipsos shows a slight majority - 46 percent when added up - against removal

The Quinnipiac poll also shows a slim majority not supporting conviction and removal, with White votes overwhelmingly against conviction …

And even while a recent Pew Research center survey shows a majority of Americans supporting removal of Trump from office, the troubling wrinkle here is that most White voters believe he should stay in office, and a massive majority of Republicans feel the same way.

Wide educational divides, particularly among whites, on whether Trump should be removed from office Majority of Republicans who say it is likely that Trump committed illegal acts oppose his removal from office

These numbers give Republican Senators all the wiggle room they need to acquit and feel politically comfortable, despite Democrats best efforts. Just because the public says it wants witnesses doesn’t mean a conviction is bound to happen. Too many observers keep wrongly equating public desire for prosecution witnesses with a mythical Republican intent to convict. That’s not always the case: everyone knew, for example, that Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam killed a defenseless 14-year old Emmett Till in 1955 just for being Black, yet an all-White jury found them “not guilty.”

For more analysis & conversation, tune in to …