Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) has joined three other Republican Senators—Thom Tillis (NC), Susan Collins (ME), and Cory Gardner (CO)—to call for an end to the ongoing partial shutdown. These party defections illustrate that the longer Trump lets the shutdown go on, the more dangerous it gets for him. Once there are a total of 20 Republicans willing to vote with Democrats, they can override Trump’s threatened veto of the spending bill and the government will reopen. In other words, four down; 16 to go.
Such an outcome is not out of the question. Trump has been embarrassed by his party in the Senate before—remember the failed vote to repeal Obamacare? But this president seems unfazed by ordinary embarrassment and cares only about pleasing his base, not putting together majorities. What the president may not realize, however—and what makes a vote like this especially hazardous for him—is that 67 votes in the Senate is the same number that would be needed to convict him should the House, pending one or more bombshells in the Mueller report, decide to vote on articles of impeachment.
Can we imagine 20 Republicans deciding to abandon their party’s controversial and chaotic leader? It’s not as difficult as conventional wisdom would have you believe. Start by considering the 22 Republican senators who will be up for re-election in 2020. Trump lost two of those states (Maine and Colorado) and those two Senators have already jumped ship. There are another three states up in 2020 that Trump won by 5 points or less: Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina. Presidential races draw many more young people into the electorate, and young voters have not been enthusiastic about the Republican party or Donald Trump lately. So, some Republican Senators from these states may find it in their political interest to put some distance between themselves and their president.