In recent weeks, the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump have advanced in a fairly methodical way, without significant surprises. But once the finish line came into sight, a basic question came to the fore: would the votes be there to impeach the president or not?
As things stand, the Democratic majority in the House currently has 233 members, but 31 of them represent Republican-friendly districts that Donald Trump won in 2016. For impeachment proponents, this raised the prospect of the arithmetic getting a little complicated: if several Dems representing "red" districts voted against the articles -- fearing a possible voter backlash -- the final tally could be uncomfortably close.
But while we still don't know for certain exactly how many members will vote for impeachment, as an NBC News analysis noted overnight, many of those vulnerable Democrats have spent the past couple of days moving from on-the-fence members to pro-impeachment members.
One by one, House Democrats representing districts won by President Donald Trump in 2016 are dotting the "i" and crossing the "t" of his impeachment. [...]The wave, which began with committee-level votes from members of the panels investigating the president in previous weeks, ramped up Monday, all but ensuring that he will become the third president impeached by the House.
As of last night, roughly half of the Democrats representing districts Trump carried in 2016 had publicly announced their intentions to support the articles during this week's floor vote.
It's worth noting a couple of things for context. First, according to most headcounts, the articles of impeachment against Trump haven't yet secured a majority -- there are still a few dozen members who've kept their cards close to their vest -- so keep an eye on the overall tallies over the next couple of days.
Second, potentially vulnerable Democrats may be breaking in support of impeachment as the process nears its House endpoint, but the party is not completely unanimous on the issue. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) intends to vote "no," as does freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who's slated to become a Republican sometime this week.
They may yet get some company from undecided Dems, included undecided members such as Maine's Jared Golden and/or Oklahoma's Kendra Horn.
That said, Republicans and their allies made a concerted effort to intimidate vulnerable House Democrats, hoping to scare them into submission. As of yesterday, those efforts appear to be failing.
There are a variety of possible explanations for this. Perhaps some of these Dems believe their re-election campaigns, nearly a year away, will have little to do with their votes on impeachment. Maybe they're convinced that opposing impeachment would carry adverse consequences in the form of a depressed base and dejected donors.
Or perhaps these lawmakers put aside electoral considerations, evaluated the available evidence objectively, determined that the president's abuses rise to the level of impeachable acts, and intend to exercise their duties responsibly regardless of the possible political implications.