Pence’s Pivot

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Pence’s Pivot
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Top story from the Associated Press: “Defying President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that he does not have the power to discard electoral votes that will make Democrat Joe Biden the next president on January 20.” Here’s what both sides are saying about the Vice President’s remarks:

On the Right: Conservatives are still split. Although they don’t take pleasure in defeat, most Republicans support Pence’s refusal to discard the electoral votes. With that said, there is still a small—yet very loud—portion of the party that is extremely upset. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, which generally supports President Trump, is backing the Vice President. Despite Trump’s claims that Pence “…has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” the WSJ says this is “a triple whammy. It’s false as a matter of fact, because no fraudulent electors exist. It’s false as a matter of law, because the Constitution empowers the Vice President merely to open the Electoral College certificates, not to count them, to say nothing of rejecting any. Finally, it’s a betrayal of the steadfast Mr. Pence that Mr. Trump is trying to discredit him in the eyes of GOP voters. Mr. Trump is showing once again that, to him, loyalty is a one-way street.” The WSJ Ed-Board says Pence’s reward for supporting the “brash New York billionaire and ex-Democrat” has been “four years of taunts about selling his soul. Now it’s Mr. Pence’s moment. Turns out, America needed him there all along.” Further out on the fringe, The Gateway Pundit covered the Vice President’s statement saying simply: “Pence folded like a lawn chair.”

On the LeftKevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins of CNN reported that Pence warned the President “in a meeting a day earlier” that he does not have the power to discard electoral votes. They said, “Trump, consumed with conspiracies and unsound legal advice, [didn’t] listen.” Liptak and Collins said “It’s an excruciating position for Trump’s loyal lieutenant, who has his own political ambitions that, for now, appear to run opposite to his constitutional responsibilities. Pence has stuck by Trump through myriad scandals, including equivocal statements on White supremacy and his impeachment. He has sought to defend and bolster Trump with skeptical foreign allies and traditional Republican groups. His fealty has earned him scorn but — until now — helped him avoid Trump’s wrath.” The pair of CNN reporters conclude by saying: “Few Trump staffers said they were surprised by the President’s turn on Pence, since he has shown a willingness to attack other loyal officials, though many were privately critical.” They end with the quote from one official who said, “No one has been more loyal than (Pence)… Trump turns on everyone in the end.”

Flag This: According to aggregated polling data from RealClearPolitics, Pence’s approval rating before yesterday hovered just above 44%. Amongst Republicans, the Vice President maintained an 85% approval rating. We keep talking about the fractured nature of the GOP, but it’s hard to quantify how large each group within the divided party is. One way to figure this out will be by tracking Pence’s approval rating moving forward. If that 85% drops to 80%, then it’s probably safe to say that most Republicans agree with the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board’s train of thought. If that 85% drops to 8.5% then that will show just how much influence Trump has over the party moving forward.