Here’s what could happen if Trump survives impeachment -- but Republicans lose the Senate in 2020
U.S. Senator Susan Collins speaking with attendees at the 2018 Small Business Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Countless pundits have predicted that President Donald Trump will be indicted on articles of impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives but will subsequently be acquitted by a Republican majority in a Senate trial. Journalist David M. Drucker, in an October 22 article for the Washington Examiner, doesn’t disagree with that likely scenario. But he stresses that the price Republicans might pay for that acquittal is losing their Senate majority in the 2020 election.

“Democrats are targeting President Trump,” Drucker explains. “What they may get instead is the Senate.”

Republicans presently have a three-seat majority in the Senate, which means that Democrats — in order to achieve a majority in 2020 — will need to flip four GOP-held seats while keeping all of the seats they are defending. Incumbent GOP senators who are typically described as vulnerable include Martha McSally in Arizona, Susan Collins in Maine, Cory Gardner in Colorado and Joni Ernst in Iowa. Flipping those four seats would give Democrats a Senate majority — assuming that incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones doesn’t lose in Alabama.

“In a Senate trial to adjudicate articles of impeachment approved by the House,” Drucker observes, “at least a handful of vulnerable Senate Republicans risk the wrath of grassroots conservatives if they vote to convict and remove Trump from office. The same group, staring down impeachment with the 2020 primary season drawing near, could just as easily alienate general election voters with a vote to acquit the president.”

Drucker specifically mentions McSally, Gardner, Collins and Ernst in his op-ed. And he also cites Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina as an example of Republican vulnerability in 2020. A GOP strategist, interviewed on condition of anonymity, told Drucker that vulnerable GOP senators “were all going to have tough races to begin with, and Trump isn’t making it any easier on them.”

Drucker notes that while voting to acquit Trump could work against Republican senators in 2020 in “battleground states” and cause them to lose to Democrats, Jones has a different problem: he is a Democrat seeking reelection in a Republican-dominated southern state.

“Sen. Doug Jones, up for reelection in deep red Alabama, is walking the same tightrope as Republicans who are running for another term in blue and purple states,” Drucker observes.

Drucker concludes his article by emphasizing that if Democrats don’t do a good job making their case for impeachment, incumbent Democrats might pay a price politically in 2020.

“With a Senate trial likely to be triggered by a partisan vote of House Democrats,” Drucker explains, “the burden of the prosecuting the case in the Senate chamber, according to the rules, would fall on them. So, too, could the blowback if the public determines that their case is thin and unreasonable.”