This past week, almost every Senate Republican (excluding only Utah’s Mitt Romney) voted to acquit President Donald Trump of the charges against him in the impeachment case brought by House Democrats. Now, they’re facing potential drags on their re-election chances thanks to those votes, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) himself is leading an apparent re-election strategy-focused “weekend-long retreat for senators and big donors” in Palm Beach, Florida, according to The Washington Post. McConnell is among the almost two dozen GOP Senators facing re-election battles this year, and even his seat has slipped to an only “likely” (rather than “solid”) Republican hold, according to the Cook Political Report.
The Post notes that McConnell’s weekend getaway with top Republicans “is certain to focus on how the entire impeachment process impacted their current 53-47 majority.” As the situation stands now, Democrats would have to nab either three additional seats and the presidency (which would give them a potential tiebreaking vote from a Democratic vice president) or four additional seats outright to become the majority party in the chamber. The Cook Political Report currently rates a full half a dozen GOP-held seats as either toss-ups or only “leaning” Republican, which is the last stop before toss-up status.
A pair of Democratic super PACs called Priorities USA and Senate Majority just announced a huge ad buy including “reservations for a several-million-dollar digital ad campaign targeting Republican senators in Arizona, Maine and North Carolina, two days after the trio voted to acquit Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” The Post notes. Each of those states’ Senators, including Martha McSally, Susan Collins, and Thom Tillis, are among those in the vulnerable seats that the Cook Political Report identifies. McSally routinely loses to Democratic opponent and former astronaut Mark Kelly in polls, and the signs of doom for the GOP go well on from there.
McConnell is trying to keep an about-face during the whole ordeal. At a press conference following the final votes to acquit Trump in his Senate trial, he claimed:
‘Every one of our people in tough races — every one of them — is in better shape today than they were before the impeachment trial started.’
Referencing Democrats and the impeachment process, he self-righteously continued:
‘They initiated it. They thought this was a great idea, and it at least for the short term, it has been a colossal political mistake.’
And — in a complete turnaround from his other comments offered just that very same apparent day, McConnell added, discussing the impeachment proceedings:
‘In the end it’s not likely to have much of an impact on any of the races, the presidential or the Senate races.’
So which is it? Is impeachment going to be a boon for Republicans or is it going to not have much of an effect? McConnell sounds like someone who is desperately reaching out for some kind of sign that there’s anything other than major accountability in his future.
In poll after poll, Trump loses to leading Democratic presidential primary candidates.