The impeachment process is starting to get very real

With 64 days until the Iowa caucuses and a record number of Democratic candidates, the 2020 election will be here before you know it. Every Sunday, I deliver to your inbox the 5 BIG storylines you need to know to understand the upcoming week on the campaign trail. And they’re ranked — so the No. 1 story is the most important of the coming week.

5. The Yang money machine rolls on: Even as better-known candidates — including a slew of elected officials — continue to struggle to raise the money they need to run effective campaigns in early states, technologist Andrew Yang just keeps raking it in.

Yang announced on Twitter Sunday morning that he had raised $2 million in just the last week alone, a somewhat remarkable number given that most people were more focused on eating and napping than donating money to political campaigns over the past seven days.

That $2 million haul represents one-fifth of the total Yang raised from July 1 to September 30 and suggests he could equal or even eclipse that number between October 1 and the end of the year. (Yang started October with more than $6 million in the bank.)

While Yang has yet to demonstrate he can compete financially with the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, he has already far surpassed the expectations of what he might be able to raise.

And remember: Raising money is an indicator of support and momentum. People don’t donate money to candidates — especially this late in the primary process — unless they think there is a real chance at success.

4. What do Bloomberg’s millions buy him?: The former New York City mayor — and billionaire — is spending north of $50 million on his first flight of TV ads, with a special focus on big, populated states like California, Texas and North Carolina set to vote on Super Tuesday (March 3).

To what end? We don’t really know yet. There’s been limited polling in those Super Tuesday (and beyond) states to date and limited national polling since Bloomberg got into the race. (A CNN national poll released just before Thanksgiving showed Bloomberg at 3%.)

If Bloomberg’s ads are working, you are likely to see it nationally first, followed by places like California and Texas, where there are large numbers of undecided voters who might be persuaded by his ads.

We should expect most of the major national networks to release polls on the state of the 2020 Democratic race over the next two weeks. And we might get lucky and get a credible California or Texas poll thrown in, too.

For Bloomberg to stay relevant, he needs to show that he is more than just money — that he has a compelling message votes respond to. Those polls should show that.

3. Kamala’s collapse continues: The final stage of any failed presidential candidacy is the blame game — when senior advisers seek to protect their own reputations by distancing themselves from a candidate who is clearly going down the tubes.

One of the most striking examples of that ship-jumping came in a stunning New York Times story the day after Thanksgiving in which more than 50(!) current and former Harris staffers dished on why the California senator’s campaign had collapsed after beginning with such promise.

You should read the whole thing, but here’s the CliffsNotes version: Juan Rodriguez, the campaign manager, and Maya Harris, the candidate’s sister, are handed most of the blame — for running a message-less (and mean) race that ill served Harris, according to the staffers interviewed.

That more than four dozen staffers and former staffers were willing to talk to the Times about their gripes with the campaign speaks to its massive dysfunction. That sort of rebellion is, frankly, shocking.

Because we are still 60+ days away from the Iowa caucuses, the possibility remains that Harris can turn it around. But with this sort of staff dissatisfaction and disagreement, it’s hard to see how she hangs on in the race until February.

2. Warren is bleeding support: The incredible summer surge of the Massachusetts senator, which catapulted her into first place in Iowa and New Hampshire, ended about four to six weeks ago. Now something more troubling is happening: Warren is starting to lose support in key places.

A Quinnipiac University national poll released just days before Thanksgiving showed Warren at 14% in the national ballot question — down from 28% in the same poll in October. In a Des Moines Register/CNN survey released in November, Warren dipped to 16% — down six points from a September poll when she was top of the field in the critical Iowa contest.

Those are the most striking results, but they are far from isolated incidents. According to the Real Clear Politics average of all 2020 national polling, Warren passed former Vice President Joe Biden briefly in early October — averaging 26.6% support. As of today, Warren is at 15.8% on average — putting her behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and trailing Biden by double digits.

What happened? Warren’s slide closely correlates to the October 15 presidential debate in which she was pilloried by, among others, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Biden for her support of “Medicare for All” and her lack of specifics about how she would pay for it.

Under pressure to answer that latter question, Warren released a detailed funding plan in early November to a very mixed reception. Then she followed all of that up with a mediocre performance in the November 20 debate.

Add it all up and she looks like a sailboat in search of wind — at the exact wrong time.

1. The week impeachment gets real: Sometime Monday afternoon (or, because this is Congress, Monday evening), the House Intelligence Committee will make its full report on what President Donald Trump (and his associates) did regarding Ukraine available to its members. The following day the Intelligence Committee will vote to send the report to the House Judiciary Committee where, presumably, articles of impeachment will begin to be drawn up.

There are two critical elements here: The report and the vote.

The biggest question in the report is whether there are things in it that we didn’t already know that either further implicate Trump or exonerate him. It seems very unlikely there is a bombshell bigger than US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s admission that there was a quid pro quo in place between the US and Ukraine but, at this point, who knows?

The second issue is the vote. Because Democrats control the majority on the Intelligence Committee — as they do on all House committees — the outcome of the vote isn’t in doubt. You should expect all 13 Democrats on the committee to vote in favor and all nine Republicans to oppose.

But what’s notable is that this will be the first of — likely — a series of impeachment votes that could fundamentally alter not just the shape of the 2020 election but also of the two parties going forward. Once the vote on Tuesday happens, the course will be set: Impeachment in the House followed by a Senate trial.

This is history.

[Read More…]