The Impeachment Landscape

By Jim Ellis

June 4, 2019 — As we have seen, the impeachment drumbeat is starting to resonate more loudly since former special prosecutor Robert Mueller addressed the media. While it appears any impeachment move the House makes would be dead on arrival in the Senate, could the proponents even pass the measure through the body of origin?

Currently, the House party division stands at 235 Democrats and 198 Republicans after Rep-Elect Fred Keller (R-PA) was sworn into office just last evening. The two vacant seats, both in North Carolina, will be filled on Sept. 10. The impeachment measure, like all other bills, would require a majority, or 217 yes votes, if all members are present and voting assuming a vote is taken before the North Carolina seats are filled.
With Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) possibly being the lone GOP exception, the Republican conference would likely be unified in opposition. That being said, the focus of attention would then come upon the 31 Democrats who represent districts that President Trump carried in 2016, 23 of whom are freshmen. Therefore, adding Amash to the “yes” category, the Democratic leadership could afford to release a maximum of only 19 conference members, meaning 92 percent of the conference would have to hold the impeachment party line.

Of these 23 freshmen, 16 are from traditionally Republican districts whose electorate flipped for the first time in more than a decade. Looking at the 31 as a whole, the group averaged a 52.6 percent win percentage factor in 2018. The 23 freshmen averaged just 51.5 percent, meaning only a few have an established political base.

These statistics suggest that the Democratic leadership might have a difficult time passing impeachment in the House with just their own party members. And, this margin projection doesn’t include some of the more centrist members from other close districts that Hillary Clinton carried with a small margin.

The following is a list of the 31 now Democratic House districts that Mr. Trump carried. They are listed in order of the president’s strength. Those in bold are freshmen members:

State/Dist. Incumbent ’18 Cong. % Clinton % Trump %
MN-7 PETERSON, COLLIN 52.1 31.0 61.8
NY-22 BRINDISI, ANTHONY 50.1 39.3 54.8
NY-11 ROSE, MAX 52.2 43.8 53.6
SC-1 CUNNINGHAM, JOE 50.6 40.4 53.5
PA-8 CARTWRIGHT, MATT 54.6 43.7 53.3
OK-5 HORN, KENDRA 50.7 39.8 53.2
ME-2 GOLDEN, JARED 50.6 41.1 51.4
NJ-3 KIM, ANDY 50.0 45.2 51.4
NY-19 DELGADO, ANTONIO 50.4 44.0 50.8
MI-8 SLOTKIN, ELISSA 50.6 43.9 50.6
NJ-2 VAN DREW, JEFF 52.9 46.0 50.6
VA-7 SPANBERGER, ABIGAIL 50.3 44.0 50.5
NM-2 TORRES SMALL, X. 50.9 39.9 50.1
MI-11 STEVENS, HALEY 51.8 45.3 49.7
PA-17 LAMB, CONOR 56.3 46.8 49.4
WI-3 KIND, RON 59.6 44.8 49.3
IA-2 LOEBSACK, DAVID 53.9 45.0 49.1
NY-18 MALONEY, SEAN 53.4 47.1 49.0
NJ-5 GOTTHEIMER, JOSH 56.2 47.7 48.8
NJ-11 SHERRILL, MIKIE 56.8 47.9 48.8
VA-2 LURIA, ELAINE 51.0 45.4 48.8
IA-1 FINKENAUER, ABBY 50.5 45.2 48.7
IL-14 UNDERWOOD, LAUREN 52.5 44.8 48.7
IA-3 AXNE, CINDY 48.7 45.0 48.5
GA-6 McBATH, LUCY 50.5 46.8 48.3
NH-1 PAPPAS, CHRIS 53.6 46.6 48.2
AZ-1 O’HALLERAN, TOM 53.8 46.6 47.7
NV-3 LEE, SUSIE 51.9 46.5 47.5
IL-17 BUSTOS, CHERI 62.1 46.7 47.4
MN-2 CRAIG, ANGIE 52.7 53.0 46.0
UT-4 McADAMS, BEN 50.1 32.4 39.1

The fact that UT-4 is listed last is a bit of a misnomer. Both major party candidates received low percentages here because Independent candidate Evan McMullin received over 20 percent of the vote. The race between Rep. McAdams and defeated Rep. Mia Love (R) was decided by just 1.3 votes per precinct, the closest congressional race in the country when looking at this particular segmentation. Therefore, the seat traditionally leans much more Republican than it showed in the 2016 presidential election.

It appears that impeachment politics will play a large role in the coming weeks, and the carry-over effect, regardless of the outcome, will likely be a major factor in the 2020 congressional battlegrounds.

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