The tumultuous impeachment hearings and the string of GOP election losses this fall underline the electoral risks Republicans are courting as they allow President Donald Trump to refashion the party in his combative image.
In overlapping ways, the election results and the hearings -- in particular Trump's characteristically belligerent response to them -- have highlighted each of his three greatest potential electoral vulnerabilities in 2020, as well as the offsetting strengths that may allow him to surmount those weaknesses.
The three biggest challenges looming in 2020 for Trump, many analysts agree, are:
1 The recoil from his definition of the Republican Party in white-collar suburbs, including many that previously leaned toward the GOP.
2 A feedback loop in which his efforts to mobilize turnout among his core supporters are producing an offsetting turnout surge among key Democratic groups, particularly African Americans.
3 An unremittingly confrontational personal style that appears to be alienating a broad swath of female voters, including some of the non-college white women who helped drive his 2016 victory. That behavior was exemplified by Trump's tweet last week attacking former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in bitterly personal terms.
Trump's principal political assets on the other side of the ledger are his success at consolidating and energizing the Republican base and deepening the GOP's dominance among white voters who live outside of major population centers, identify as evangelical Christians or lack college degrees, especially the men in each of those groups.
As the impeachment struggle and the off-year elections have simultaneously unfolded this fall, they have illuminated all of these dynamics. But the events are underscoring the trends that threaten Trump even more powerfully than those that benefit him.