The gray on that graph shows the difference in views of the president between the two parties. While in the past, partisan views of the president had moved up and down roughly in parallel, even through Bush, views are now static — and distant from one another.
If we look solely at the average gap between the parties, there’s a clear trend since the Reagan presidency: the gap in views of the president between the two parties has gone up and up and up. In 2019, that gap was an average of 82 points. That’s up 3 points from the 2018 figure, which was at that time a record gap.
The important data in terms of the impeachment trial, though, are marked with those vertical dashed lines. We’ve marked each of the significant impeachment efforts in the last 100 years, those of Richard Nixon in 1974, Bill Clinton in 1998-1999 and that of Trump.
Nixon, facing imminent impeachment and likely removal, resigned. Clinton was impeached but survived a removal vote. Trump seems poised to do the same.
Notice the trends that preceded those events though. The gap between the parties dropped before Nixon’s resignation — since Republicans soured on him, too. For Clinton, the gap grew: Democrats held steady while Republican views dropped. For Trump, as we said, everyone is sitting at opposite ends of the spectrum and not moving.
The Clinton era, powered in part by former House speaker Newt Gingrich, saw the gap in political ideology in Congress grow more quickly, too. The gap between the parties’ average ideological scores as calculated by Voteview hit a new high at the end of the Clinton presidency. That, too, continued to grow, spiking again under Barack Obama.
The Trump impeachment comes at a moment when views of the president by party and congressional partisanship have never been farther apart. To be removed from office (convicted on the charges of impeachment) Trump would need to see some 20 Republican senators vote against him. With Republican voters strongly supportive of Trump and a deep divide between the parties in the Senate — the widest ideological gap in the Senate on record — that’s almost certainly not going to happen.
As was obvious from the outset.