As Robert Mueller’s investigation moves forward the case against Donald Trump continues to grow, both legally and morally. From siding with foreign adversaries to the release of personal conversations with his former lawyer, and a rapid decline in U.S. agricultural and automobile commerce, the President is experiencing a rapid increase in attacks against his personal decisions and those made as President.
It’s not a bad time for a lawmaker to discreetly step away from the GOP administration and it appears that Congress recognizes that fact. Thirty-nine lawmakers are leaving Congress this year, in what one polling analytics entity is calling “the fifth-biggest exodus of any party in any election going back to 1974.”
FiveThirtyEight released a list and analysis for the 2018 election, tallying all members of Congress leaving this year, their reasons for leaving, and their dedication to the Trump regime. After filtering out those running for another office, the analysis comes to 26 Republicans and 8 Democrats.
The analysts further broke down the data for how each seat leans (of those 26 Republicans, there are 4 seats where current polling leans Democratic) and how often the representative in question supports Trump, by percentage. These range from Florida’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who’s Trump score is 69.2%, to the three House members (Dave Trott, Gregg Harper, and Bill Shuster) who are in lockstep with the president 98.8% of the time.
A total of 14 (13 from the House, and one from Senate) who voted with Trump more than 95% of the time are leaving — the three named above and Ed Royce, Dennis Ross, Tom Rooney, Trey Gowdy, Lynn Jenkins, Lamar Smith, Senator Orrin Hatch, Ryan Costello, Sam Johnson, Bob Goodlatte, and Paul Ryan.
At this point it’s impossible to say for sure if those seats will flip, though a few are in blue-leaning districts. Gallop polling shows the weekly fluctuation of Trump’s approval and disapproval ratings, and as of July 22, his approval is at 42% and disapproval at 54% — far from the worst numbers he’s seen since Trump entered office.
At the same time, he’s seeing quite a few major ‘losses’ right now:
- Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s trial begins in less than a week.
- A judge ruled yesterday that an emoluments case can move forward against Trump — NPR notes this has further implications, as it opens the door to demand financial information from Trump and his businesses.
- Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been warned by a judge to stop dodging a summons accusing him of collusion in the Russian attack on the 2016 U.S. elections.
- Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, kept secret recordings of conversations with Trump, and these and other evidence are coming to light as prosecutors sift through documents obtained in a raid of Cohen’s offices.
That’s quite a list without even touching lawsuits over the treatment of immigrants under Trump’s policies, challenges to his attacks on ‘sanctuary cities,’ lawsuits alleging Trump’s ban of transgender individuals joining the military is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and so on.
The current political climate makes it difficult for a Republican to stand against Trump, even when their morals demand it — leaving conservative legislators in a tight place, to such a degree that former congressman and current political commentator Joe Walsh recently declared that “every Republican in Congress says one thing about him [Trump] in public and something very, very different about him in private.”
It can’t be easy to be a Republican legislator under Donald Trump, and in 2018, more than two dozen —more than a dozen of whom have voted with him more than 95% of the time — are done with it.