There's an awful lot we don't know yet: how public opinion will respond to the declassified whistleblower report, how many months an impeachment inquiry could take, what other wrongdoing it could reveal, and whether Dems will ultimately have 218 votes to pass articles of impeachment (at 235 seats, they can afford no more than 18 defections, assuming Independent Rep. Justin Amash votes to impeach).
The best case scenario for Democrats is that an all-consuming investigation into the president's alleged abuse of his office takes a lasting toll on Trump's standing with independents and he loses reelection by a substantial margin, dragging congressional Republican fortunes down with him.
The worst case scenario for Democrats would be that independents view them as leading a fruitless endeavor that distracts from addressing the country's problems - and that the saga polarizes House races along the lines of 2016 results, imperiling 31 Democrats in Trump-won districts and the majority as Trump rides a strong economy to reelection.
But at the outset, here's what we do know:
On the extreme end, DCCC Chair Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17) had $2.3 million in the bank while no challenger had filed an FEC report. And, Slotkin, Sherrill and Spanberger each had over $1 million in the bank while only Spanberger had a challenger who had filed an FEC report, with just $161,000 in cash on hand. But January's FEC reports could easily tell a much more competitive story.
A decent indicator of how impeachment could play in "red" districts will be this year's gubernatorial contests in Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky. Although all three states are significantly redder than most of the Trump-won districts Democrats represent, a GOP sweep of all three would reflect a surge in Republican base enthusiasm and could make a few Democrats on this list more uncomfortable.
It's not fair to compare this moment to 1974, when partisan cable news and social media didn't exist, or to 1998, when impeachment concerned a president's personal indiscretions rather than foreign election interference. We are in uncharted territory, and patience is warranted in evaluating whether impeachment proceedings will alter Democrats' advantage in the 2020 race for the House.
Image Credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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