Updated Sep 28, 2019 - Politics & Policy

The 2020 impeachment campaign

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is increasingly likely to be impeached by the full House late this year or very early in 2020, on the eve of the first voting in presidential primaries and the official start of his reelection campaign.

Why it matters: This outcome, which seems more certain with each passing hour, means the presidential, Senate and House races will be consumed by impeachment.

  • The very real possibility that America will face the theater of House hearings, and then a Senate trial, in D.C. while campaigns unfold nationally has both parties scrambling to recalibrate strategies.

Between the lines: The Constitution is not unambiguously clear that the Senate can be forced to hold a trial if Trump is impeached.

  • But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who broke tradition and refused to allow a vote on Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, told NPR months ago that if impeachment "were to happen, the Senate has no choice. If the House were to act, the Senate immediately goes into a trial."

The Senate politics: Ignore the punditry on which party benefits politically from impeachment. That is unknowable. But the impeachment debate definitely puts a number of senators in tough races in an even tougher spot.

  • Democratic Sen. Doug Jones is running for reelection in pro-Trump Alabama.
  • Swing-state Republican senators like Cory Gardner in Colorado will be in a jam, especially if independent voters favor impeachment. It’s very difficult to grind out general election victories with Trump voters only in swing states. 

The House state of play: A majority of the House's 435 members — as many as 223 House Democrats and one independent — now favor some kind of impeachment inquiry against Trump, according to news organization tallies.

  • In a dynamic similar to the Senate, impeachment puts swing-district House members in peril. CNN's Chris Cillizza points out that of the 12 holdouts among Democrats, 11 represent districts that Trump carried in 2016.

The bottom line: Parties and candidates at all levels have spent years shaping the 2020 battle space. That's now for naught: Washington, which couldn't getting anything done, is suddenly driving the nation's politics into the unknown.

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