I have been hearing for a while now that because the Democrats decided to impeach the president that they are going to lose in the 2020 election. When Clinton was impeached in the 90s did Democratic voters run out and vote for him because he was impeached? Was that the main issue that brought them to voting booths? If so what evidence is there of that and can it be provided?

I really want to know what is the source of this belief. There have been so few impeachments of any president that comparing them is like apples and oranges in my opinion. If anything this impeachment looks more like Nixon than Clinton.

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    No impact. He was not running for re-election (term limited)
    – spring
    Dec 15, 2019 at 1:48
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    Where exactly have you been hearing that, Fox News? It would certainly seem arguable that impeachment but a failure of the Senate to convict despite overwhelming evidence would make it more likely that the Democrats would win the election - along with a number of currently-Republican Senate seats.
    – jamesqf
    Dec 15, 2019 at 4:02
  • Jamesqf it has been reported that Nancy Pelosi didn't want to move forward with impeachment because she thought that it would get Trump reelected. I have heard it also from Trump himself. I don't watch Fox news for obvious reasons but can't really tell you where I first heard this. I can say that over the summer for the Muller hearing this was reported about Pelosi and even then I didn't understand the reason for this line of thinking.
    – Kyle Brown
    Dec 15, 2019 at 6:04
  • @Kyle Brown: Well, some people will say anything, but the reasoning seems quite dubious, seeing that even a Fox News poll reported today shows 50% of Americans think Trump should be impeached & removed: thehill.com/homenews/administration/…
    – jamesqf
    Dec 15, 2019 at 18:15
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based on a false assumption, and the answer is "none, because he was not running for re-election". Dec 16, 2019 at 0:44

2 Answers 2


While Rick Smith is absolutely correct that Clinton was not re-elected, there is a common belief that Clinton’s impeachment was damaging to the Republican party, which is likely the basis of this belief you describe. In my answer I will address this.

The fear that Impeachment will hurt the Democratic party comes from the traditional wisdom about the Clinton Impeachment which says that Impeachment hurt the Republican party in the upcoming elections. In reality, though, there is little evidence of such a political cost.

The Clinton Impeachment took place over 1998, the second year of his second term, in the lead up to his second-term midterm elections. The House voted to begin an Impeachment Inquiry against Clinton on October 8, 1998, less than a month before the Midterm elections. In those elections, the Democrats gained 5 seats in the House, while the Senate was unchanged. This was considered a major loss because, to quote wikipedia:

With the Republicans having lost 4 House seats and failing to gain any seats in the Senate, it was the first time since 1934 that the non-presidential party failed to gain congressional seats in a mid-term election. It was also the first time since 1822 that the non-presidential party had failed to gain seats in the mid-term election of a President's second term.

So, from one point of view, the Republican party did pay a cost for their Impeachment. Despite this, however, the Republicans retained their majority in the House and Senate, and therefore didn’t lose any political power.

In the next elections in 2000, despite the Democrats gaining 4 seats in the Senate and 1 in the House, the Republicans won the Presidency and retained a majority in both the House and the Senate (though they lost their Senate majority on June 6, 2001, when Senator Jim Jeffords switched parties).

So, despite losing seats, the Republican party didn’t actually pay any cost for Impeaching Clinton: they didn’t lose control of any part of government, and, in fact, many think it might have helped them take the Presidency in 2000 despite Clinton leaving the presidency with the best Economy in recent memory and a budget surplus.

In a 2019 article in The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein argues that Impeachment, despite being unpopular and failing to result in a conviction, tarnished Clinton’s reputation and made him significantly less valuable as a surrogate for Vice President Gore, who hoped to succeed him:

in 2000, lingering unease about Clinton’s behavior provided a crucial backdrop for George W. Bush’s winning presidential campaign—particularly his defining promise “to restore honor and dignity” to the Oval Office.

Tad Devine, a senior strategist for Al Gore, the Democratic nominee in 2000, concurs. Bush’s ability to tap the public’s dismay over Clinton’s personal life “more than anything else got in our way in terms of winning the election,” he told me.

After the Senate refused to remove him in early 1999, Clinton’s job approval remained about a buoyant 60 percent through the rest of his presidency. But that strong number coexisted with substantial public disapproval of the personal behavior that the Starr investigation and the impeachment inquiry had highlighted.

Those personal doubts about the outgoing president cast a huge shadow over the election to succeed him—a dynamic usually omitted in the equation portraying Clinton’s impeachment solely as a self-inflicted wound for Republicans. Those doubts led the Gore campaign to conclude they could neither campaign with Clinton nor deploy him extensively as a surrogate.

Both Devine and Dowd noted that Bush’s constant pledge to restore presidential honor and dignity skillfully tapped that unease without fully embracing the divisiveness of impeachment itself.

But Bush carried one-third of the voters who liked Clinton’s performance but disliked him personally. That’s a much higher-than-usual level of defection from the president’s party among voters who approve of his performance, and in 2000, those voters represented about one-fifth of the entire electorate.

Bush reaped another benefit from the impeachment, Dowd believes: high turnout among Republicans frustrated that Clinton remained in office.

Ultimately, Impeachment is so rare that any historical comparison is likely to be tenuous. Yet, while it’s clear that while Impeachment can have risks for the opposition party, the conventional wisdom about the cost the Republican party paid for Impeaching Clinton is not supported by historical evidence.

  • Great response! Would you mind giving the source for the quotes? Would prefer digital, but I understand if it's hard-copy given the timing. Dec 16, 2019 at 13:46

When Clinton was impeached in the 90s did democratic voters run out and vote for him because he was impeached?

No, he was not a candidate for a third term as president.

Bill Clinton

First term (1993-1997)
Second Term (1997-2001)
Impeached (December 19, 1998)


No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice ...

When impeached, Bill Clinton was in his second term and not eligible for reelection.

  • Why both do both sides then argue that Trump getting impeached would lead to his reelection? What is this based on?
    – Kyle Brown
    Dec 15, 2019 at 0:08
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    @KyleBrown Clinton was still massively popular by the end of his second term. He would have been reelected to a third term if he had been able to run.
    – Sjoerd
    Dec 15, 2019 at 0:13
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    @KyleBrown - The alleged partisan nature of the impeachment is thought to be offensive to voters and that the reaction of those voters will be to reelect; at least as I understand it from the news.
    – Rick Smith
    Dec 15, 2019 at 0:16
  • @KyleBrown - And I should add, take some Democrat seats in Congress, as well.
    – Rick Smith
    Dec 15, 2019 at 0:33
  • @kyleBrown the general perception is that Democratic voters viewed the impeachment charges against Clinton as frivolous, and a clear sign that the Republicans were making Impeachment partisan for no justifiable reason. They fear that the same will result from impeaching Trump over Ukraine. While some feel that this is an apples-to-oranges comparison, the Republican talking points have all claimed that the impeachment is a partisan farce, and it has clearly motivated their base. It seems likely that this will encourage higher Republican voter turnout, possibly balanced by Democratic turnout. Dec 16, 2019 at 13:50

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