Reality may have caught up with some Republicans - Senate Republicans, specifically. They can read polls like anyone else and see that President Donald Trump's approval ratings are stuck in the low 40s. They can see that multiple Democrats can beat Trump in the general election as things presently stand. They can see the electoral train wreck that awaits. Axios reports on a Morning Consult poll that finds:
"President Trump's net approval rating has plunged in every key battleground state since taking office in January 2017, according to Morning Consult's tracking poll."
"These are the states that Republicans and Democrats are vying for in 2020, and where, as of now, the campaigns think the presidential election will be decided, according to conversations with several Trump and Democratic campaign staffers.
"In addition to the key purple states - Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin - that both sides recognize as targets, the Trump campaign has its sights set on Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire and New Mexico, all states Trump lost in 2016, several campaign officials said."
The results are stunningly awful for Republicans. Trump has gone from net positive to net negative in Wisconsin (+6 to -14), Michigan ( +7 to -11), Iowa (+9 to -11), Pennsylvania (+10 to -8), Florida (+22 to -1), Ohio (+14 to -6) and New Hampshire (+1 to -17), to name just a few. Needless to say, if Trump loses Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the 2020 race is a blowout.
More important, if Trump loses Maine by double digits (+8 to -13), Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, already in deep trouble because of her votes on anti-abortion judges, will need a new line of work. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., already facing a huge challenge from former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper is going to have to run ahead of the top of the ticket by double digits. (Trump has gone from +1 to -12 there). Republicans' chances of keeping the Arizona Senate seat are slim if Trump (+19 to -7) bombs.
And sure enough, Senate Republicans, who've never mustered the nerve to oppose Trump on much of anything, are fretting. The Hill reports, "The GOP majority in the Senate is shaping up as a firewall for Republicans who are worried that President Trump might falter and lose the White House next year." They also don't think much of their chances to retake the House. The report continues:
"'If we lose the presidency - and if I had to guess right now, the odds are 10 percent we get the House back - the Senate is the only check and balance,' said one former Republican Senate chief of staff. 'If we don't keep the Senate, we're basically screwed. I hate to just cut to the chase, but that is exactly what the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] is running with.' . . .
"The 'firewall' narrative has trickled down to battleground Senate races, with GOP incumbents seizing on McConnell's message.
"'The socialism charge, in particular, works well with some of the soft Republican voters, suburban voters that Republicans have struggled with in the Trump era . . . so I think you'll see a lot of Republican candidates talk about the Senate being the last firewall,' said a national GOP strategist watching the Senate races."
Well, gosh what could they do? They could hope Trump acts normally for the next 14 months or so, the economy doesn't slow down and they pass some important legislation. Umm, that's not happening. Alternatively, they could encourage a viable candidate to compete with Trump on the outside chance he or she might win. (Nikki Haley, call your office.) Another idea would be to dump Vice President Mike Pence to put a woman on the ticket in the faint hope voters will vote for a woman VP despite Trump being on the ticket. That's also unlikely, especially if one or two women run on the Democratic side.
As a last resort, they might actually call for him to resign, support activating the 25th Amendment or signal that they are amenable to removing him if Democrats vote for impeachment. (They'd just need safe senators or senators not up for reelection in 2020 to join all Democrats.) Given their level of cowardice over the past three years, it's hard to imagine them taking the initiative.
However, if the House were to impeach and send Trump over to the Senate for trial, Senate Republicans would be compelled to look not only at the overwhelming evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors but also at the general political landscape. Compelling evidence, a crazy – in the colloquial sense – president and a wilting economy? It might be awfully tempting for Republicans to give Trump the heave-ho or to tell him they'll vote for impeachment unless he resigns. Maybe current Senate Majority Leader (but for how long?) Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should go chat with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Just a thought.