Guilty or not, Wisconsinites won’t feel the real impact of Trump’s second impeachment trial until 2022

3 things we know, & the biggest thing we don't

MADISON, Wis.– This week’s impeachment trial is expected to be short, unsurprising, and ultimately lead to the acquittal of former President Donald Trump. However, the biggest surprise for Wisconsinites won’t be the verdict or how Wisconsin’s Senators will vote. It’ll be how the verdict will impact 2022 and beyond.

What we know: How Wisconsin’s Senators will vote

Both Tammy Baldwin (D) and Ron Johnson (R) are expected to vote along party lines.

“It’s very likely that Senator Baldwin will vote to convict the president and even more likely that Senator Johnson will vote to acquit the president,” said Mike Wagner, Political Science Professor at the UW-Madison.

What we know: Wisconsinites, like most Americans, are divided by party

An average of the 13 most recent polls from FiveThirtyEight shows around 50% of Americans believe Trump should be convicted, while around 40% believe he shouldn’t. Broken down along party lines, 85% of Democrats favor convicting the former president, while just 13% of Republicans do.

“I think it’s more an example of the polarization rather than something that’s going to make it worse,” said Wagner, of the upcoming vote in the Senate.

What we know: Democrats and Republicans will use this trial to energize Wisconsin voters in 2022

Johnson’s seat is up in 2022 and, according to Wagner, Democrats’ attack ads already write themselves.

“I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see an ad with video of the attempted coup at the Capitol and then Senator Johnson voting to acquit the president,” said Wagner.

The same goes for the other side: Republicans will likely use Johnson’s vote to reinvigorate the Trump base.

What we don’t know: Will Republicans still align themselves with Trump in 2022?

Wagner predicted that throughout the trial, some Republicans with presidential aspirations will take the unpopular party position right now, favoring conviction, as a gamble that will become the popular position in the future.

“But that is a gamble,” Wagner reinforced. “And who knows if risk-averse politicians would take that?”

Risk-taking has proved rewarding in the past: for example, in 2003, when Senators were voting on whether to give then-President George W. Bush authority to pursue military action in Iraq, most Democratic Senators with presidential ambitions voted for it, reasoning that Bush’s approval ratings were high at the time and they didn’t want to look weak on defense. At the time then-State Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) spoke out against it. He used that position to differentiate himself from the other candidates in the 2008 Democratic primary and went on to secure the party’s nomination, and later, the presidency.

RELATED: Like Senators, Americans are split on whether Trump should be convicted during second impeachment trial