It’s a testament to how tepid the public reaction to Schiff’s impeachment hearings has been that this perfectly predictable admission by Murphy feels shocking. There are still Senate Republicans who are considering a vote for removal?
Well, sure. Romney’s made it clear from the start that he’s keeping an open mind. Murkowski has never had much use for Trump and doesn’t fear a primary, having gotten reelected despite losing one before. (She declined to vote for Brett Kavanaugh, remember, just to show Trump and the base that she can’t be muscled.) That’s almost certainly who Murphy means. Nor is he obviously lying in order to make mischief on the right; if that were the plan, to sow suspicion of treachery by Republican senators among their base, he’d be hinting that support for removal is much broader than anyone thinks. Instead he goes out of his way to say that no more than five Republicans might switch sides and that he doesn’t think the numbers would shift even if the vote were held by secret ballot.
Which is also certainly true. Casting a secret ballot for removal would actually be more dangerous politically than openly voting to remove. You’ll get primaried in the latter case but at least you’ll have the grudging respect that comes with going on the record in your opposition. To cast a secret vote for removal and then have that vote leak would make you a traitor to the party *and* a coward.
Since the beginning, the only suspense in the Senate vote is whether Democrats can at least break even by getting half the chamber to support removal. That’s always seemed doubtful to me, although I gave them a decent shot early on at getting 49 — i.e. all Democrats vote to remove and Romney and Murkowski join them. Lately it seems like a more realistic number is 46, with all Republicans plus Joe Manchin supporting acquittal. Gonna be highly embarrassing for Schumer and Pelosi when the vote in both chambers ends up being bipartisan in *Trump’s* favor, not theirs.
On the other hand, don’t get too cocky about the politics of impeachment. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, posted some internal poll numbers last night about Oklahoma’s Fifth District, which was won by a Democrat last fall for the first time in 44 years. “Nancy Pelosi is marching members of her caucus off the plank and into the abyss,” Parscale gloated in a tweet, pointing to the fact that his numbers show a 49/42 lead for the Republican candidate on the generic ballot there and 45/52 opposition to impeachment. When district voters are asked if impeachment makes them more or less likely to reelect Democrat Kendra Horn, they split 28/36. All of which is good for Trump, sort of.
The wrinkle, per Dem pollster Will Jordan, is that just 40 percent of OK-5 voted for Hillary in 2016. It’s a solid red district, leaning Republican by 10 points. So to have *45 percent* in favor of impeachment isn’t smoking-gun proof that this has backfired badly on Pelosi; impeachment is more popular there than the last Democratic presidential nominee was. Having a small plurality of 36 percent say they’re less likely to reelect Horn because of impeachment is underwhelming too in context. Surely there are lots of strong Republicans in the district who never had any intention of voting for Horn who’d answer yes to a question like that because they’re upset about what Pelosi and Schiff are doing. Horn probably *will* lose her race next year but that was likely with or without impeachment: With Trump back on the ballot, GOP turnout is bound to be higher than it was for her razor-thin upset victory last year in the midterms.
That’s a long way of saying that, although the polls have shifted a bit in Trump’s direction since House Democrats took impeachment public, it’s only a little bit. Since the Ukraine news broke big in October, at no point in FiveThirtyEight’s tracker of impeachment/removal polls has opposition to impeachment exceeded support for it. In fact, support has rebounded slightly over the past two weeks: On November 23 there was just a 0.1 percent difference between support and opposition but today it’s back up to a net 2.3 percent. Dems aren’t going to get anywhere near the landslide support in polling that they’d need to spook Senate Republicans but it’s unlikely that Trump and Republicans are going to get anywhere near the landslide opposition they’d need to make Democrats really regret having done this. What’s probably going to happen after the Senate acquittal is what happens on nearly every issue nowadays — the public will be evenly and bitterly divided and then they’ll forget the whole thing and move onto something else within 48 hours. I doubt one in 10 voters in Horn’s district will have impeachment in mind when they go to vote next fall, and those who do will be rock-ribbed Republicans eager to throw her out regardless.
"Have you spoken to a single GOP colleague in the Senate who's even considering voting for impeachment?" — @WillieGeist
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) December 6, 2019