Oct 4, 2019

Trump's Senate red wall

Data: Net approval via Morning Consult, election margins via Dave Leip's Election Atlas; Graphic: Axios Visuals

Every time President Trump seems to tempt fate — like inviting China on camera yesterday to investigate the Bidens — just remember that he's counting on his red wall in the Senate to save him even if he’s impeached.

The big picture: Here’s a visual look at just how strong that wall is: 51 Republican senators from states Trump won in 2016. He only needs 34 to save him from being convicted and removed from office if the House impeaches him.

  • So if Mitt Romney or Ben Sasse feel like voting to convict, they can and it wouldn’t make a difference.
  • The red wall doesn’t include Susan Collins or Cory Gardner, the two Republican senators from states that voted for Hillary Clinton (Maine and Colorado). Both are up for re-election next year.
  • They could vote to convict too, and it still wouldn’t matter.

Remember that impeachment, which only takes a majority vote in the House, doesn’t end Trump’s presidency. That only happens if two thirds of the Senate votes to convict and remove him — 67 senators if they all show up.

The catch: The wall gets weaker if you factor in Trump’s approval ratings. They’re negative in some of the states he won in 2016.

  • But even if all of those senators jumped ship — which is a stretch — he'd still have more than enough votes to block conviction. That would only change if he started to lose senators from states where he's still popular, too.

By the numbers:

  • 36 Republican senators represent Trump states where he’s still popular. 15 of them are up for re-election.
  • 15 Republican senators represent Trump states where his approval ratings are underwater, but only 5 of them are up for re-election.
  • Trump could lose 17 senators from his red wall — or 19 Republicans if Collins and Gardner were in the mix — and still stay in office.

The bottom line: Trump believes the combination of right-wing media backing + GOP senators' fear of crossing Trump voters will save him.

  • Right now, there are few noticeable cracks in this wall.

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to show that Martha McSally is up for election to hold on to her seat in 2020.

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