Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, a moderate Democrat who is opposed to impeaching President Donald Trump, is expected to leave the party as the House prepares to vote on impeachment.
Democrats are expecting Van Drew to switch parties after an internal poll he conducted showed he was unlikely to win re-election in his congressional district, which Trump won by about five points in 2016.
The Target Smart poll, which was conducted earlier this month of likely primary voters in the second district, showed 60% of people surveyed said that "someone new" should be elected, while 24 % said that Van Drew "deserves to be re-elected."
Van Drew has had conversations with senior White House advisers about getting the president's support for his switch, and could announce his plans next week, according to media reports. Van Drew did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. He denied that he was switching parties on Tuesday.
Van Drew has been openly critical of impeachment, arguing that it's polarizing and comes too close to the 2020 election. His opposition drew criticism from voters in his district and spurred a primary challenge that threatened his re-election prospects.
"My district is red — a good chunk of it — and they're definitely anti-impeachment. And then I have the part that is purple, and they are more pro-impeachment. So whatever you do, you're going to aggravate people," Van Drew told NBC News.
He was only one of two Democrats to vote against the House resolution in October that set the procedure for impeachment. The other Democrat was Rep. Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, who represents a Trump-won rural district.
Van Drew's party switch could impact the Democrats' expected vote on two articles of impeachment against Trump next week.