A proposal to sideline an effort to impeach President Donald Trump passed the House last Friday by a nearly 300-vote margin, with almost two in three House Democrats joining together against the impeachment plan.
But there was an interesting shift in the vote since a similar proposal was tabled in December: A majority of House Democrats who represent more liberal districts now voted in favor of considering impeachment, perhaps a sign that the left wing of the party could be edging closer to seriously mulling trying to oust the President. Or at least making a show of it.
While it’s clear the House — and even the Democratic caucus — are a long way from actually backing impeachment, the gradual shift could have major implications if Democrats are able to win back the House after the 2018 midterm elections.
You can see the shift if you divide House Democrats into two halves: those representing the most liberal districts and least liberal districts. Then compare those who cast votes against a motion to table impeachment on Jan. 19 (a vote against tabling is a vote in favor of considering impeachment; the ideology of each district is determined by partisan voter index data from The Cook Political Report).
The takeaway is that more Democrats from more liberal districts supported impeachment in January than in December, which was tabled by a similar margin. The total number of Democrats backing the plan grew from 58 in December to 66 in January.
As of now 17 of the Democrats from the top 20 liberal districts have voted to consider impeachment — higher than the 12 of 20 who supported mulling impeachment back in December. One of the three who remain opposed? Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Meanwhile, only three Democrats in the 54 least liberal Democratic seats cast their votes to consider impeachment.
It’s also worth noting that Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory was almost 20 percentage points wider in districts with representatives who cast ballots to consider impeachment versus those who voted to table the proposal. (These percentages were virtually identical in both the December and January votes.)
A poll from the Public Religion Research Institute in December found that seven in 10 Democrats believe Trump ought to be impeached and removed from office.
But Democratic leaders do not support the effort.
“Now is not the time to consider articles of impeachment,” Pelosi and fellow Democratic leader Steny Hoyer wrote in a press release before the December vote, while still asserting that “legitimate questions have been raised about his fitness to lead this nation.”
“Right now, congressional committees continue to be deeply engaged in investigations into the President’s actions both before and after his inauguration. The special counsel’s investigation is moving forward as well, and those inquiries should be allowed to continue.”