With each passing day a few more House Democrats signal their support for impeachment, but thus far Republicans in both the House and Senate seem to be sticking with Trump. And all along, it’s been assumed that any article of impeachment approved by the House and sent to the Senate would never get the required 66 votes to pass. Even if a few swing-state Republicans voted to impeach, the effort would fail. It’s hard to imagine any scenario where the GOP abandons Trump.
But not impossible. Consider this. A few more conversations come to light where Trump betrayed the USA to a foreign leader (like the one that came to light last night, where Trump reportedly told Russia that he wasn’t concerned about Russia’s election interference because we’ve done it to other countries), or Trump tried to extort another country to dig up dirt on a rival, or Trump abused the power of his office to coerce the IRS to give him favorable tax treatment, or whatever. And suppose that these transgressions push his approval numbers into the low-30s. His core cult is still with him, but nobody else is.
And now suppose that Trump’s troubles really start to hurt down-ballot races in crucial districts and especially in crucial Senate races. The GOP will be facing a high-risk proposition–stick with Trump and possibly lose everything.
It’s not inconceivable that the GOP could warm to the thought of impeaching Trump and embracing Mike Pence–assuming Pence doesn’t get implicated in anything, which he very well might. Pence as president would give them three good things to hope for. 1) That Pence wouldn’t have nearly as much baggage to drag around and defend in the 2020 election as Trump would, and thus Pence might have a better shot at prevailing in another Electoral College win. 2) That it would be easier for the GOP to retain the Senate in 2020 by bolstering the chances of swing-state Republicans like Cory Gardner (CO) and Susan Collins (ME). 3) That it would allow all Republican candidates to say, “We did the right thing. We’re still a party of principles and values” (which would be a bold-faced lie but Republicans could sell it to their base via constant repetition on the Fox channel).
The Pence scenario is certainly a long-shot, but if more bad behavior from Trump comes to light and he begins to drag certain crucial poll numbers down, it’s possible that leaders in the GOP could start to look for an escape hatch. It’s common knowledge that many of Trump’s supporters in Congress secretly hate the man and know he’s an epic disaster. But they won’t abandon him until his own misconduct begins to threaten their grip on power, which will be evidenced in polling and voter analyses. The scenario is unlikely but not impossible.
Meanwhile, keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”