SOUTH BEND  — After impeachment and Iowa, reelection of President Trump is more likely. If the election were held next Tuesday, he would win again in the Electoral College. Impeachment has helped Trump politically. He has climbed in approval ratings amid the proceedings. The latest Gallup poll finds Trump’s approval rating at 49%, highest since he took office in 2017.

The debacle in Iowa Democratic caucus tabulating did more than rob former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg of election night momentum that would have come if there had been vote totals then to reveal his spectacular showing. With no totals at all – not that night, not any until partial results dribbled out late in the afternoon on the following day – the famous first-in-the-nation test with voters brought jokes about Democrats not even able to add up vote totals.

Laughter at the bungled process replaced serious analysis of the vote count. There was no count to analyze. The debacle enabled Trump to claim that the Democratic process was “rigged” and that Democrats shouldn’t be trusted with health care if they can’t even count caucus goers.

It was a good week for the president. Rise in the polls. Acquittal in the Senate. A Democratic debacle in Iowa. Poking Democrats in the eye with a sharp stick repeatedly in the State of the Union address.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t pleased with the speech. She kind of hinted at that by tearing up her copy when the president finished his remarks. But Trump didn’t care about her reaction. He showed his disdain by declining to shake hands with Pelosi when he arrived at the podium. He cared not at all what Democrats in the House chamber thought. His remarks were aimed at pleasing his base and the expanding Republican support he needs in key states to win again.

Pelosi had been right to caution last spring against rushing to impeach, with the certainty that it would lead to Senate acquittal and a presidential boast of being exonerated after a partisan attack. But that blatant Ukraine call and other Trump conduct convinced House Democrats to impeach. Pelosi agreed, although she knew what would happen.

It happened. Impeachment did of course lead to the always certain acquittal by Senate Republicans and the presidential boast of being exonerated after a partisan attack. Many Democrats expressed surprise that all of the Senate Republicans except one voted to acquit. Well, impeachment is political, not a judicial process, not when all the “jurors” have vast prior knowledge and have expressed opinions about the impeachment target.

Democrats can be angry. They are. But they shouldn’t be surprised at the always certain result. Republican senators were sure to go along with what a vast majority of the Republican voters back home wanted, demanded.

That Gallup poll found Trump’s approval rating among Republicans hit 94%, up six percentage points from early January and three points higher than his previous best. Trump’s approval rating among Democrats sank to 7%, a fall of three points. This shows an astounding nation-dividing 87% gap between Republican and Democratic approval.

Solid Republican backing and an increase in approval among independents as well means Trump right now would win again, perhaps more easily than in 2016 in the Electoral College. That’s because huge Democratic pluralities against him would come from states like California and New York and other Democratic bastions along the coasts that Trump writes off, while he would have a solid chance again to win the key battleground states in the middle.

The election isn’t coming up Tuesday. It’s Nov. 3. Much will happen before then. Democrats have a chance. Will they get their act together behind a solid contender? And will President Trump’s conduct convince that 94% of Republicans to stay with him or cause defections in key places? 

Jack Colwell is a columnist for The Tribune. Write to him in care of The Tribune or by email at jcolwell@comcast.net.