First, I'm asking this question in general to address those calling for impeachment without any comment about whether an impeachment should/would happen etc. I just want to speak to how possible/impossible an actual removal from office is, if those calling for an impeachment were to get their way in such a hypothetical situation.

Right now (as of Feb 13 2017) I don't think Trump has done anything that has any realistic chance of impeachment occurring, but anti-Trump individuals keep speculating to issues they feel will inevitably occur. I've heard of a few such claims, most common seems to be issues with Trump abusing his presidency to help his businesses. So, I am wondering about this sort of hypothetical situation where Trump has done something, without speculating what exactly, to further alienate/upset Congress, enough to lead to impeachment hearings happening. How badly would this hypothetical something have to be that he would have a realistic chance of being removed from office?

Since past impeachments (all two of them!) seemed to involve votes following party lines, for these sorts of votes lets say in this hypothetical impeachment almost every Democrat voted for removal, what is the number of people left that would need to vote 'against' party lines (or with the Democrats in the case of Independents or third party candidates), and frankly how severely would Trump had to have #@%$ up to have alienated so many Republicans?

For example, if something happened to alienate all the Independents and those Republicans who had previously renounced or spoken out against Trump when he was running against Clinton, how many votes would that be for removal and how many of the rest of the remaining Republican base would still have to be alienated to reach the 2/3 number?

How many 'hard right' Republicans, Tea Party members and the like, that are unlikely to ever vote against Trump in impeachment hearings are there? What percentage of the remaining Republicans, who didn't denounce Trump but theoretically could vote against him if a severe enough incident were to come to light, would that leave that need to vote against Trump?

I know his VP is a very hard-right-leaning Republican, so I wonder if this affects the likely outcome. Would Republicans be more inclined to vote against Trump to get a VP with strong right leanings if Trump doesn't stick to Republican doctrine etc?

Even harder to speculate, but if we theorized a situation after the next election where Democrats had the majority, let's say around the level when Obama took office, before the impeachment happened. How would that affect the number of Republicans that would have to vote against party lines?

  • 4
    There seems to be a lot of questions being fired off here. Can you please formulate a single clear question that gets to the root of your thoughts. I think the common denominator here is "How many people would never vote to impeach trump" to which the answer is none, everyone would eventually vote to impeach him for something. Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 21:54
  • Agreed, the question needs to be rephrased to elicit an answer that doesn't require much subjectivity Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 3:49

2 Answers 2


Impeachment of a president requires a simple majority vote by the House of Representatives.

Removal from office requires a 2/3 super majority vote in the Senate.

The history of the U.S. would indicate impeachment is unlikely. Consider the following.

  • There have been 35 attempts at impeachment.
  • Articles of Impeachment have been filed 9 times.
  • There have been 2 impeachments by the congress (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton). (This requires a simple majority vote by the House of Representatives.)
  • There have been zero convictions by the Senate.

The Senate class up for election in 2018 was last up in 2012 and 2006. It is more Democratic now than when Barack Obama took office. The absolute limit of gains in that class is eight seats, as there are only eight Republicans. That would take the Democrats from forty-six plus two independents who caucus with the Democrats to fifty-four plus two, i.e. fifty-six.

A more likely result would be a gain of two seats, Nevada and Arizona. The other six are exceptionally Republican and unlikely to go Democrat. Democrats would have forty-eight seats or fifty total with the independents.

So best case, Democrats need eleven Republican Senators (a quarter of the caucus) to switch. More likely, seventeen (about a third of the Republican caucus). Currently nineteen (of fifty-two).

Note that it was Barry Goldwater, usually considered a "hard right" Republican who told Richard Nixon that he was voting against him that led to Nixon's resignation.

The Republicans who are most vulnerable to Trump now are the moderates from swing states. The moderates need Trump's endorsement to rally the base. The conservatives can better afford to criticize him, as they can spare more Republican voters in the general election. We saw examples of this 2016, as the fight between Trump and Senators Joe Heck and Kelly Ayotte resulted in all three losing those states.

That said, 538.com did a feature estimating what Senators from both parties were most and least likely to support Trump.

That Mike Pence isn't, say, Elizabeth Warren may make things a bit easier. But any Republican would be sufficient.

There's something of a tipping point as well. To a certain point, denial is a valid strategy to avoid impeachment. Republicans need Trump as strong as possible to support them. But at a certain point, Trump stops being net helpful. At that point, Republicans are better off abandoning Trump and clearing themselves. It may well be no accident that there are zero successful presidential impeachments and one resignation. The resignation allowed Senators of the same party to avoid taking a stand.

Rather than looking at the Senators, it might make more sense to look at voters. What would it take to peel Trump's supporters away from him? That's probably what it takes to peel Senators away. Because he didn't come through the political process, Trump's power derives from his voters. He doesn't have personal allegiances from politicians on which he can rely.

  • 1
    The Senate's role is to convict; it's the House, by a simple majority of members voting, that starts by impeaching.
    – DJohnM
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 2:15
  • 4
    The question is "if impeached, what does it take to remove?" The answer is two thirds of the Senate. It's already past the House at that point.
    – Brythan
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 4:28

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .