A difficult Senate map in 2018 suggests that Democrats' call for impeachment is nothing but rhetoric


Following the release of several polls which suggest that the Democrats have a good shot at re-taking the House of Representatives (one poll from Ipsos has Democrats up as much as 7 points, and new polls from RCP has the lead at 3.9 percent), some Republicans are fearing that the Democrats will try to impeach President Trump after 2018. Though not entirely uncommon, several Democrats in the House have already raised motions to impeach the president. However, with the Democrats putting all their hopes in the House, they may be leaving out one critical factor when it comes to impeachment: the United States Senate. In order for the President to be impeached, there is a four-step process that must be followed by Congress:

  • The House Judiciary Committee holds hearings and if necessary prepares articles for impeachment
  • If a majority of the committee votes to approve the articles, the whole House debates on them
  • If a majority of the House votes to impeach the official on an article, the official must then stand trial in the Senate
  • For the official to be removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict the official. Upon conviction, the official is automatically removed from office, and if the Senate so decides, may be forbidden from holding government office again

That two-thirds element is key as the chance of the Democrats winning a majority in the Senate, let a majority large enough to impeach, looks slim.  There are several Democrats defending seats for re-election, including eight in states that President Trump won by large margins: Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Montana, and Wisconsin.

Individual polls on key races also don't look good for the Democrats. Bill Nelson of Florida is down 1.2 percent to Rick Scott, Mike Braun is up 1 percent on Joe Donnelly in Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp is down 0.5 percent to Republican Kevin Kramer in North Dakota. Claire McCaskill of Missouri is also in trouble with the latest polls showing her only up 1 point.

These numbers don’t look good when it comes to a Democratic majority in the Senate, let alone a 2/3rds majority. The numbers also tell a story of Democrats forced to straddle the line between impeachment rhetoric and compromise: for example, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota has been campaigning on a theme of bipartisanship, citing her willingness to vote with President Trump on some issues.

Ultimately, the Democrats may be giving their base false hope with the possibility of impeachment as several Democratic Senators find themselves in trouble when it comes to holding their seats and gaining that two-thirds majority needed for impeachment.