The final vote in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial was vastly different than the first vote in 2020, when Senators voted down party lines, nearly 50/50.
In the second trial in early February, seven Republican Senators voted to find Trump guilty, still not nearly enough to reach the two-thirds majority necessary for conviction but still far more than in 2020.
UCF History Professor and News 6 Political Analyst Dr. Jim Clark said the seven Republicans who broke from party lines either had nothing to lose, are not facing re-election for several years or were expected to vote to convict.
“Remember, two of those seven aren’t running for re-election, one is up in 2022,” Clark said. “So there’s really no election threat to the seven who voted to convict.”
But Clark said the skewed vote does not represent a less-divided nation and was an emotional vote rather than a representative one.
“It is kind of anomaly given the situation of what happened at the capitol, if that had not happened at the Capitol there would have been no impeachment at all,” Clark said. “Because this involved the capitol, because they saw their colleagues threatened and running for their lives, they were emotionally affected.”
Clark said the uneven vote, however, does show a changing demographic.
“I think the Republican Party is skewing older and losing voters, we’ve seen this since the election, where tens of thousands of Republicans have switched their registration to Democratic or Independent,” Clark said. “We’re seeing changes brought about by new people, new voters. Seminole County, which has been one of the original Republican counties in Florida dating back more than half-a-century, is seeing an influx of younger people, people moving in from other areas, and they’re registering democratic.”
Clark said the second impeachment vote also revealed something called “fear of Trump.”
Many Republican Senators voted not to find the former President guilty in part because they don’t want a challenge in their upcoming primaries, according to Clark, because history shows they then usually do worse in the general election.
Sen. Marco Rubio and his upcoming re-election bid is an example; he might’ve faced a challenge from, of all people, President Trumps’ daughter, Ivanka, now a Florida resident, Clark said.