feb 6, 2020

Senate so far split neatly along party lines on impeachment

  • Great graphics here
  • A Bitter Impeachment Ends; Its Divisions May Live On
  • David Brooks
  • The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson (1868) President of the United States
  • Impeachment: What To Know
    https://smarthernews.com/article/impeachment-what-to-know/A Bitter Impeachment Ends; Its Divisions May Live On
    By Gerald F. Seib
    Feb. 5, 2020 6:01 pm ETThe stately dome of the U.S. Capitol has towered over many a dramatic scene since it was completed a century-and-a-half ago. Yet most recently, the dome has stood in silent witness to what feels like a lifetime’s worth of drama packed into just a few weeks.Consider the list: the impeachment of a president; an angry Senate trial, only the third in history; a president’s State of the Union address publicly ripped apart by the speaker of the House; a senator making an emotional and unprecedented announcement he would vote to convict a president of his own party; and, finally, a decisive acquittal of the president.That was the cycle that drew to a close late Wednesday when the Senate voted to dismiss impeachment charges against President Trump. You might think the shock of the impeachment drama would cause leaders in Washington to take a deep breath and find a way to come back together. And that may be what happens. Certainly some lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, say they now want to find ways to come back together.Yet there is another plausible scenario, one that produces the opposite outcome. Under this scenario, the impeachment drama that just ended will serve only to further institutionalize Washington’s polarization for years to come.Here’s how that could happen:The impeachment trauma may leave the two most important figures in each party—Republican President Trump and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi —incapable of working with each other. He blames her for letting impeachment happen in the first place; as impeachment unfolded, she appears to have become more convinced that he is dishonest and unethical.The deep bitterness was on full, nationally televised display Tuesday night, when Mr. Trump refused the traditional handshake with the speaker before he began his State of the Union speech, and Mrs. Pelosi dramatically tore apart the text of the president’s speech as soon as it was over. The two have never had a good relationship. Now they essentially can’t stand to be in the same room together.This is not normal, yet it may be an impediment to action in Washington, not just for the rest of this year but for a long time to come.Baffling and infuriating as it seems to Democrats, the impeachment controversy actually may have nudged upward Mr. Trump’s chances of being re-elected this fall. The president’s core base of voters is even more energized. One reader of this column emailed during the impeachment debate to declare that he was prepared to crawl on hands and knees across broken glass to vote for the president’s re-election—and that he has friends who feel even more strongly.

The venerable Gallup poll this week showed Mr. Trump’s job approval edging up to the highest level of his presidency. Similarly, Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling shows his approval among the crucial bloc of independent voters has risen.

In House races, meanwhile, votes cast for impeachment could backfire for some Democrats in Mrs. Pelosi’s caucus as they seek re-election this year. In particular, the 30 House Democrats seeking re-election in districts Mr. Trump won in 2016 will have some problems back home.

Yet Republicans have built-in problems of their own, in particular the 26 House Republicans who have chosen to retire rather than seek re-election. Some of them come from districts where Democrats fired up by impeachment as well as moderate Republicans turned off by Mr. Trump’s behavior could tip those seats to the Democrats this fall.

Bottom line: Chances are good that Democrats retain control of the House—and Mrs. Pelosi remains speaker.

Meanwhile, though, impeachment and broader Trump controversies could make it harder for Republicans to keep control of the Senate. Three senators— Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine—are seeking re-election from swing states where Mr. Trump is relatively unpopular and where their votes against convicting him could energize Democrats and independents to vote against them.

Some other Republican senators— Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia—face similar problems, and an open seat in Kansas could be within reach for Democrats. At the same time, Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama has the reverse problem as he seeks re-election in a state where the president is popular and his vote against Mr. Trump could hurt him.

Bottom line: Democrats need to flip three seats to draw the Senate to an even 50-50 split, and four to take outright control, and that is possible.

Perhaps impeachment’s bitterness will fade, starting with members of the Senate pulling together. “Personal relationships matter a lot more here,” says Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri. Or, perhaps it will help cement the capital’s division for some time to come.

Write to Gerald F. Seib at jerry.seib@wsj.com

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