(Dec. 3) As impeachment looms, Republican officeholders hitching their wagon to President Trump’s star may be making the wrong political bet. The safer option might be to work in concert to evict Trump from office quickly, giving voters nearly a year to get accustomed to Mike Pence as president.

It is beyond dispute that Trump is toxic in the professional classes and the well-to-do suburbs. Also beyond dispute is that he energizes Democratic turnout against him and those associated with him. Meanwhile, it is not clear whether he transfers his blue-collar support to other Republicans. Republicans have taken a drubbing in local and congressional races ever since Trump was elected.

Meanwhile, Trump’s volatility is such that some new, Trumpian controversy could explode in Republican faces at any time. It’s not very wise to ride on the back of someone juggling live grenades.

Plus, there do exist in politics both an exhaustion factor and a backlash factor. The rabble gets tired of being roused. Likewise, many people alternate between desires for excitement and for safety. After four years of Trump, the electorate as a whole, including many people whose main goal was to “shake up the system,” may decide that too much shaking makes them nauseous.

Indeed, a steady hand on the tiller might look rather good by next November. If Pence has been president for nearly a year by then, and if the top-line economic numbers remain strong and the policies stay largely the same, but without Trump’s constant drama, then Pence might be seen as a way to keep good times going while avoiding the operatic unpleasantness of Trump’s reign. Plus, Pence is less likely to catalyze an energetically high Democratic turnout against Republicans, and less likely to turn off suburban professionals.



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