House Democrats are on recess and back in their districts this week, gauging how their constituents feel about impeachment. Public opinion has moved toward support of the impeachment inquiry, but many Democratic strategists remain especially concerned that the 31 House Democrats who represent districts that backed President Donald Trump in 2016 could face a backlash if they ultimately vote to impeach him.
That’s led some to privately contend that if House Democrats eventually bring articles of impeachment to a floor vote, the party leadership should not push members from swing districts to support it. But electoral history of the past two decades suggest that these vulnerable Democrats may be safer hanging with their party than trying to maneuver separately.
The reason is that it is far from clear that swing-district members can insulate themselves from the broader public reaction to impeachment, however they vote individually. On other highly contentious votes in recent years—such as the assault-weapons ban in 1994, the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and the attempted repeal of the ACA in 2017—the backlash against those decisions in the next election washed away both representatives who voted with their party and those who didn’t.