by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Senate Republicans stand to be the biggest casualty of impeachment, since they face losing their three-seat majority as struggling candidates are forced to cast a vote that will anger critical groups of voters, no matter which way they go.
Democrats are targeting President Trump. What they may get instead is the Senate.
In a Senate trial to adjudicate articles of impeachment approved by the House, at least a handful of vulnerable Senate Republicans risk the wrath of grassroots conservatives if they vote to convict and remove Trump from office. The same group, staring down impeachment with the 2020 primary season drawing near, could just as easily alienate general election voters with a vote to acquit the president.
While Trump is unlikely to be convicted by the Senate, some Republicans will be tempted to support it. “The House makes the articles of impeachment; we sit as a jury,” Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters Monday. “There isn’t any way you’re going to know how that plays out until it’s part of public discussion.”
Republican voters are heavily against impeachment. Democrats are strongly in favor, and independents are leaning supportive.
That dynamic could squeeze Republican incumbents up for reelection in battleground states, forcing them to choose between appeasing a feverishly pro-Trump GOP base or distancing themselves from an unpopular president to appeal to swing voters and soft partisans. Among them are Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Martha McSally of Arizona.