The Recent SCOTUS Battle

How Kavanaugh Could Impact Midterm Elections

Friday, October 5th

How Kavanaugh Could Impact Midterm Elections

With midterm elections approaching, opinions about Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have become a key gauge of how Americans will be voting. (Reuters)

“In July, there was a 10-point gap between the number of Democrats and Republicans saying the November elections were ‘very important.’ Now, that is down to 2 points, a statistical tie… With Democrats already fired up for this election, the Kavanaugh confirmation fight has apparently had the effect of rousing a dormant GOP base.” (NPR)

Putting on your radar: Kavanaugh’s op-ed from Thursday evening. (Wall Street Journal)

From the LEFT

The left acknowledges that this is a setback, but notes that the numbers tell a complicated story.

“Mad is a good thing in politics, because mad voters tend to vote. Democratic voters have been mad to the point of outrage since the day Trump won the 2016 presidential election. Matching that passion — or, more accurately, struggling to match that passion, has been the Republicans’ struggle since the start of 2017. The fight over Kavanaugh appears to have done the trick.” (CNN)

The Kavanaugh hearings have women fired up… to vote Republican.” (Slate)

For conservative women, “a big source of… anger about Kavanaugh seems to come from a fundamental sense of unfairness: They believe Kavanaugh was convicted in the court of public opinion before he ever had a chance to defend himself.” According to one Indiana activist, “The media and the Democrats have totally flipped the narrative… [and Kavanaugh] is guilty until proven innocent.” (The Atlantic)

Many point out that “Republicans might be improving their odds of keeping the Senate, where the GOP base will be crucial — several vulnerable Democrats are up for reelection in states that Trump won in 2016 and where he still remains popular. But the Supreme Court fight might not help as much in the House elections, where suburban swing districts… will decide who controls the chamber.” (Vox)

However, “it doesn’t necessarily follow that the party that ‘wins’ the battle over Kavanaugh will benefit electorally… A CBS News/YouGov poll conducted earlier this week found that more voters would be angry than enthusiastic if Kavanaugh was confirmed — but also, more voters would be angry than enthusiastic if Kavanaugh was not confirmed. Whichever party doesn’t get its way on Kavanaugh will have more reason to feel aggrieved — and perhaps more motivation to turn out to vote.” (FiveThirtyEight)

“So if you’re the Republican Party, you could win the Supreme Court and lose Congress, or at least the House. For Democrats, your worst nightmare could become reality on the court. But you could live your dream of recapturing at least half of Congress. Which is the better trade-off? A lifetime seat on the Supreme Court with ideological control for the foreseeable future far outweighs a congressional majority, which is much more cyclical… that’s my win-one, lose-one thesis.” (LA Times)

Some Democratic strategists want to pivot to other issues if Kavanaugh’s confirmed: “The truth is that in nationalized elections—most of which are presidential but some of which can be midterms—if the dominant issue terrain is around the cultural sphere, Democrats lose.” Others, however, counter that “to try to ignore the passion, anger, and confusion around the Kavanaugh nomination and hope you can draw attention to another part of the agenda is flawed at this moment. You can’t even explain how you would do it.” (Daily Beast)

From the RIGHT

The right believes that the confirmation battle will energize Republican voters.

“The battle over Kavanaugh could rally apathetic Republican voters, especially in the red states that will decide which party controls the Senate… [keep in mind that] Republicans do not need to win a national plebiscite to salvage their narrow Senate majority. They need to beat sitting Democratic senators in states like North Dakota.” (Washington Examiner)

According to a recent Fox News poll, “compared with early September, the number of Republicans feeling ‘extremely’ interested in the upcoming election is up by 2 points in Arizona, up by 9 points in Indiana, up 8 points in both Missouri and North Dakota, and up 11 points in Tennessee. In each state, Republicans are now just as likely as Democrats to say they are extremely interested — erasing an edge Democrats had in several states last month. Voter interest is directly linked to turnout.” (Fox News)

“Democrats overplayed their hand with women in this country. They made a dangerous assumption that… all women would certainly take the side of the female accuser. They assumed Republican women would play into their identity politics… and that assumption is blowing up in their faces. Women who may have been feeling disillusioned by President Trump have found a new motivation to vote against Democrats in the Midterms.” (The Federalist)

Furthermore, “according to most polls, the leading issue on the minds of voters right now is health care… The issue breaks hard against Republicans right now for various reasons. But guess what Democratic candidates are not talking about right now? Health care. They’re talking about Kavanaugh instead.” (Power Line Blog)

Several prominent #NeverTrump conservatives are having a change of heart:

Bret Stephens writes, “For the first time since Donald Trump entered the political fray, I find myself grateful that he’s in it… I’m grateful because Trump has not backed down in the face of the slipperiness, hypocrisy and dangerous standard-setting deployed by opponents of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I’m grateful because ferocious and even crass obstinacy has its uses in life, and never more so than in the face of sly moral bullying. I’m grateful because he’s a big fat hammer fending off a razor-sharp dagger.” (New York Times)

Erick Erickson writes, “Trump does not have the character or strong Christian faith I prefer in a president. But he is positively angelic compared to his political opponents and the press… I would rather vote for him, despite his flaws, than for his opponents who want a flawless progressive utopia. Trump is neither an ambassador for my values nor the articulate champion of my principles I would prefer. But he is a safe harbor in a progressive storm that seeks to both destroy my values and upend our constitutional republic.” (Townhall)

On the bright side… 

You can send a scary clown to deliver doughnuts (and nightmares) to your friends. (Food & Wine)

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