Impeachment is in the air.  Perhaps House Democrats will be forced to pull this trigger before 2019 is out.  But one thing that is holding them back is what it might do to the 40 new Democrats elected to congress in 2018 by taking formerly Republican seats.  How much would voting to impeach President Trump weaken their re-election prospects?

Most of the Democratic gains in 2018 occurred in the leafy suburbs of states such as New York, New Jersey and California, and the seven-seat Democratic pick-up in California was their biggest gain in any state.

So California, with 46 House Democrats, is a good model to examine what could happen if these members vote to impeach Trump.  Thirty-nine of these seats were Democratic before 2018. Thanks to the California Target Book it is possible to look at the Trump-Clinton returns in each of these districts, some of which were formerly Republican seats that drifted away during the decade.

But none of these 39 districts look like they will be a Republican target in 2020, for good reason, because Trump’s 2016 showing in all of them was terrible.  In only three did he break 40 percent of the vote. These are CD 3, (John Garamendi), where Trump got 40 percent; CD 7 (Ami Bera) where Trump got 41 percent, and CD 36 (Raul Ruiz), where Trump got 43 percent.

But Garamendi and Ruiz have been safe in recent cycles, and Bera, while once a GOP target, won with 55 percent in 2018.  So these three Democrats would not seem to be endangered by voting to impeach Trump, and the rest of the 39 pre-2018 Democrats could easily vote to impeach without any political danger.

The issue will be the seven new members, and they could be in varying degrees of danger with an impeachment vote.

So of the seven new Democratic members of congress, only three could vote for impeachment without a backlash.  Leaving aside California, there are 31 districts a Democrat won in 2018 that Trump actually carried against Clinton in 2016.  Most of these are held by first term Democrats who flipped them in 2018.

With only a few exceptions, these incumbent Democrats would likely hurt their re-election chances with an impeachment vote.  Republicans only hold three districts that Clinton won 2016, and none of them would feel much pressure to vote for impeachment.

So Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows something that the Democratic base howling for impeachment and their supporters on cable networks don’t know: her Speakership and Democratic control of the House would be endangered by forcing impeachment to a vote.

Look for the Democrats to convene plenty of hearings but not actually go a vote on impeaching President Trump.