New polling has Republican Senator Susan Collins behind by one point in her reelection bid, despite her Democratic opponent Sara Gideon’s relative lack of national name recognition. New polling has Republican Senator Martha McSally behind by seven points to her popular Democratic opponent Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords.
These are terrible numbers for an incumbent at this stage of the race. It’s pretty darn clear that voters are looking to punish the Republican Senate for giving Donald Trump a sham impeachment trial and an illegitimate acquittal – and they’re looking to take it out specifically on the Republican Senators who are up for reelection in November. Right now Collins, McSally, Cory Gardner, and others in the same boat are waiting and hoping that the public forgets how angry it is at the GOP Senate by November. Fat chance of that, but when you’re behind the eight ball, all hope is fleeting hope. But what happens once they realize they’re likely to lose?
As nice as it would be, these Republican Senators aren’t simply going to sit there and let their seats slip away from them. If they reach a point where they’re truly worried that their complicity in Donald Trump’s crime spree is likely to cost them their seats, they’ll try to do something about it. No, they won’t suddenly try to remove Trump. That ship has sailed. But weasels like Collins and Gardner are surely sitting on some half-baked, weak willed plan for partially distancing themselves from Trump in case he continues dragging them down.
That brings us to Donald Trump’s stunningly inappropriate and corrupt decision to appoint Richard Grenell of all people to be the new Acting Director of National Intelligence. Grenell is the current United States Ambassador to Germany, where he’s hated, and he appears to mostly spend his time trolling people on Twitter instead of doing his job. Remember when Trump wanted to make some hapless idiot Republican Congressman his new DNI? This guy would be ten times worse.
Even though the Senate doesn’t get to formally confirm an Acting Director of National Intelligence, Republican Senators can easily use their unofficial leverage to push Donald Trump into dropping Richard Grenell if they really want to. In fact we already saw them torpedo Trump’s previous attempt at putting a loyalist into the same position. You have to wonder if this is the part where certain GOP Senators take a look at their ugly 2020 poll numbers and decide to take down Grenell, so they can (weakly) argue to voters later on that they stopped Trump on this one occasion. The Republican Senators deserve no points either way.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report