As of that time, there are 206 votes to impeach the president, 12 short of the majority needed to pass one of the two articles of impeachment that will be presented on the House floor Wednesday. Nearly all of those votes come from Democrats; nearly all of the votes opposing the articles (that is, supporting the president) come from Republicans.
If we plot those votes by the members’ districts (Cook Political Report’s index of district partisanship) and ideology (Voteview’s assessment of how liberal or conservative each member is), the results look like this. Put simply, moving from left to right, the districts go from more Democratic to more Republican. Moving from top to bottom, the representatives go from more conservative to more liberal.
A few non-impeachment-related things jump out immediately, such as the different directions in which each party’s caucus stretches. Democrats stretch left to right, a function of the much more partisan districts Democrats represent. (In some cases, that’s by design.) Republicans stretch more up and down, with districts that are evenly Republican-friendly being represented by members who range from moderate to conservative.
If we superimpose average values for each caucus, we see that the average partisan leans are about similar: Republican districts are, on average, R+13 according to Cook, while Democratic districts are D+12. That’s again despite Republican districts being clustered together while Democrats are spread across a wider range. That range grew in 2018, with Democrats picking up a number of swing or Republican-leaning districts.
Republican average ideology is farther from the middle than the Democratic average. The caucus is also more ideologically diverse, spread further on the vertical axis, than the Democratic caucus. That’s in part because there are more fervently conservative Republicans than staunchly liberal Democrats.
Again, most of those dots fall exactly where you would expect: Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing impeachment. Notice that the Democratic support stretches throughout the full caucus, even into those swing and Republican-leaning districts. More on that in a bit.
Before we get to that, it’s worth noting those who bucked their parties. That includes Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), whose opposition to Trump prompted him to leave his party in July. It also includes Reps. Collin C. Peterson (D-Mich.) and Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), who opposed the Oct. 31 vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry and oppose the impeachment itself. That (D) next to Van Drew’s name, by the way, is expected to change; he’s expected to leave his party and become a Republican.
There are a lot more Democrats who’ve yet to declare their intent than there are Republicans. According to The Post’s count, there’s only one Republican, Rep. Francis Rooney (Fla.), who might shift to supporting the impeachment. (His comments Tuesday morning suggest that’s unlikely.)
The undecided Democrats, like the decided ones, span the caucus in ideology and district lean. Notice, though, that all of the solidly Republican districts (districts where the lean is more than five points for the GOP) represented by Democrats have representatives who’ve made up their minds.
Several of those yet to decide include members whose votes are almost certain. Reps. José E. Serrano (D-N.Y.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) haven’t taken an official position, but there’s little to no chance that either will oppose the articles.
Where things get interesting is when we isolate the swing districts and the Democrat-held districts that generally vote Republican. There are 69 districts represented by Democrats that meet that standard; in 56 of them, the representatives have taken a public position of support for impeachment. Another 11 are undecided.
Among the 19 Republicans who hold such districts, though, there’s no dissent: They all oppose impeachment. That includes Reps. Will Hurd (Tex.), John Katko (N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), all of whom opposed the Oct. 31 inquiry vote and who’ve expressed opposition since. That despite their representing districts that are close to the middle in terms of partisan support.
This is actually fairly remarkable, setting aside expectations. There’s a broad push to determine whether these swing-district Democrats support impeachment but little similar effort focused on the Republicans. Again, that’s largely because their positions are clear — but that their positions are clear while a number of Democrats are still reserving their own suggests that there is less perceived political risk for the Republicans than their opponents.
Interestingly, the average partisan lean of the swing-district representatives in each caucus is slightly Republican, and the average ideologies are about equidistant from the middle. Swing-district Democrats, in other words, broadly support impeachment despite representing districts that lean slightly Republican — and swing Republicans universally oppose it, despite representing only slightly more Republican districts on average.
This has broad political benefits for Trump and his party. The unanimity displayed so far by Republicans (after Amash’s departure) allows them to portray the impeachment effort as a partisan effort by Democrats. But that Republicans — even swing-district ones — haven’t faced much public pressure to explain their votes makes that rhetoric somewhat self-reinforcing.
J.M. Rieger contributed to this article.