Collin C Peterson

At the Races: Quite a year already

By Stephanie Akin, Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathé 

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

Lawmakers urge Supreme Court to reexamine abortion decisions
Mostly Republican group targets Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey

More than 200 lawmakers, almost all of whom are Republican, want the Supreme Court to strike down landmark cases upholding abortion rights. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Over 200 lawmakers, mostly Republicans, filed an amicus brief Thursday urging the Supreme Court to upend the precedents set by two landmark abortion rights cases, elevating abortion as a campaign issue ahead of this fall’s elections.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 4 in June Medical Services v. Gee, a case over a 2014 Louisiana law that requires physicians who offer abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles. Abortion rights advocates argue that the restrictions are burdensome and would cause most doctors to stop performing abortions.

How House members who are most vulnerable in 2020 voted on impeachment
Supporters say Ukraine actions crossed a line; opponents see dangerous partisan precedent

Top row from left: Democratic Reps. Jared Golden, Collin C. Peterson, Anthony Brindisi and Max Rose. Bottom row from left, Republican Reps. Chip Roy, Brian Fitzpatrick, John Katko and Fred Upton. (Photos by Tom Williams and Bill Clark)

It’s not clear how impeachment will impact the battle for the House in 2020, when every seat is on the ballot. But lawmakers in both parties will have to explain to voters about why they did, or did not, vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

That’s a particularly delicate task for members of Congress in competitive races. Lawmakers in swing districts break with their parties on occasion, but Wednesday’s impeachment vote fell almost entirely along party lines.

Meet the Democrats who broke with their party on impeachment
Three Democrats voted against at least one article, but one might soon be a Republican

Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson opposed both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two House Democrats opposed both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, while one split his vote on the two articles. A fourth voted “present.”

All three Democrats — one powerful committee chairman and two freshmen — represent districts Trump carried in 2016, but their votes put them at odds with the 28 other Democrats in Trump districts, all of whom voted for both articles of impeachment.

Impeachment news roundup: Dec. 18
House ends historic impeachment debate, majority votes to impeach Trump

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., is seen in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall during procedural votes on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House shortly before noon began debate on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders said they were on track to vote on them this evening.

While Republicans moved to adjourn the House shortly after it convened and introduced another resolution condemning the Democratic committee chairmen who led the impeachment inquiry, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters that the House will definitely complete debate and vote on impeachment today.

Maine’s Jared Golden will vote against impeaching Trump for obstruction
In split decision, freshman says he will vote that president abused his power

Freshman Rep. Jared Golden of Maine said he will split his vote on two articles of impeachment before the House this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maine Rep. Jared Golden, a freshman Democrat from a district President Donald Trump carried in 2016, is voting for one article of impeachment, but not the other, breaking with nearly every other member of his caucus.

Golden said he would vote for the first article, which accuses the president of abuse of power, but not the second, which alleges that he obstructed Congress.

As impeachment vote approaches, Democrats busy talking about other things
Amid policy discussions, Democrats praise colleagues for principled positions on impeachment

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., talks to reporters after Tuesday’sa meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol, where impeachment was barely discussed. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

It’s the day before the House votes to impeach a president for just the third time in history, so naturally one would expect Democrats leading the effort to be talking about the coming vote.

Instead, the Democratic Caucus spent most of their weekly meeting Tuesday talking about the two massive appropriations packages that were unveiled Monday evening, along with a host of other policy priorities they’re trying to get done before the end of the year. 

What to expect as Trump impeachment debate hits the House floor
5 talking points from past few months likely to be repeated in floor speeches

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., holds up a pocket Constitution as she votes yes in the House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. Expect the Constitution to come up frequently during House floor debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats and Republicans have been making their respective cases for and against impeaching President Donald Trump for months, but it is Wednesday’s debate on the House floor that will be memorialized in history.

Lawmakers have already made their arguments through weeks of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees’ proceedings, news conferences and cable TV appearances, so what they say Wednesday will be repetitive to those who’ve been paying attention. 

House ratings changes: A dozen races shift toward Democrats
Combination of self-inflicted wounds, slow recruiting and suburbs continuing to shift against Trump diminish GOP chances

Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig is among the Democrats whose reelection chances have improved, according to the latest ratings by Inside Elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most Republicans believe their party has weathered the 2018 storm and brighter days are ahead in 2020. But that perspective doesn’t mean the GOP’s chances of retaking the House are particularly good.

Even if the national political environment isn’t as bad for the GOP as the midterms when they suffered a net loss of 40 House seats, there’s little evidence that President Donald Trump will dramatically improve his 2016 performance in key competitive districts next year.

States in the Midwest with outsize roles in the 2020 elections
Rust Belt states helped decide the presidency, and have numerous competitive races for House, Senate

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s reelection is one of several that make Iowa at battleground state in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there’s an abiding lesson from 2016, it’s that national public opinion in the presidential race is not as important as the votes of individual states. Republican Donald Trump won by taking 304 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 227, even as Clinton beat him by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points nationally.

In 2020, Democrats will be looking to recapture states Trump won that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many of those states will also be prime battlegrounds in the fight for control of the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take a majority (three if they win the White House and the vice president can break 50-50 ties), while Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to retake the House.