How Will The Kavanaugh Confirmation Affect The Midterms?

Republicans have already received a boost, but Democrats have a powerful reason to get out the vote.

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight is now a matter for the history books. Justice Kavanaugh has already been sworn in and will join the other justices when the Supreme Court reopens on Tuesday. The next question to consider is how the bruising battle to confirm Kavanaugh will impact the midterm elections, now less than a month away.

The past week has brought positive polling news for Republicans that was almost certainly related to the Kavanaugh hearings. First, polling showed that Republican enthusiasm had risen sharply in recent months, finally catching up to that of the Democrats. Following on that news, the Cook Political Report moved three Senate races to more favor the Republican candidates. In one case, the race for Democratic Sen. Jon Testor’s seat in Montana, shifting polls give the GOP a chance to flip a Democrat seat. Jon Testor’s vote against Kavanaugh in deep red Montana may sway voters against him in the tossup election.

While Kavanaugh’s confirmation is good news for Republicans and their base, the bad news for Republicans is that they failed to make the case to voters that Kavanaugh should have been confirmed. FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of Kavanaugh’s approval rating showed that the judge was moderately popular when he was first nominated, but that his approval was already falling when Christine Blasey Ford made her accusation against him on Sept. 16. After the accusation, Kavanaugh’s approval fell below 50 percent and never recovered.

Kavanaugh’s approval rating fell with all demographics except Republicans, where he became more popular after the Ford accusation. Unsurprisingly, the largest drop was among Democrats, but Kavanaugh also had a net disapproval among independents. Ominously for Republicans, Kavanaugh’s approval fell among both men and women. The judge’s approval was still positive by about five points among men but was negative by 15 points among women.

It is the reaction of women that may tell the tale of the 2018 midterms. Even before the Kavanaugh accusations, the GOP was in big trouble with female voters. Many analysts, such as Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report already predicted that 2018 would be the “year of the angry female college graduate.” Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation will do little to cool the tempers of angry women.

It must be remembered that the 2018 midterms are not one election, but rather a series of local and state elections. How the Kavanaugh confirmation affects the election will depend on the local electorate. In the case of red state Senate Democrats, opposition to Kavanaugh could hurt the incumbents and possibly tip some races to the Republicans.

Beyond red state Democrats, it becomes a question of which group is more motivated by Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Republicans voters will be inspired to reward their party for standing firm. For Democrat voters, the goal will be to prevent another conservative justice from being appointed in the event that Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Stephen Breyer leave the Court.

Thus far, President Trump’s appointments have had minimal effect on the balance of the Court. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh replaced the constitutionalist Scalia and the nominally conservative Anthony Kennedy. However, if President Trump appoints a replacement for Ginsburg or Breyer, two liberals who are also the oldest justices, the Court could veer sharply to the right. Preventing such a conservative movement would be a prime motivation for the left. To do so, they would need to win the Senate in 2018 and the presidency in 2020.

Brett Kavanaugh has already given Republicans a shot in the arm by boosting enthusiasm for the midterms, but he has also given Democrats a powerful reason to get out the vote. The fact that Republicans pushed Kavanaugh through against popular opinion may cost the GOP the votes of some independents and moderates. If the election is about the turning out the base then Republicans may gain an advantage from Kavanaugh. However, if voter anger spreads and independents are motivated to turn out in large numbers, the advantage will likely go to the Democrats.

Comments
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NWRED
NWRED

The mid-term election will be dictated by the Kavenaugh hearings and the accomplishments od President Trump..

According to many Democrats,

due process and innocwnt until proven guilty are no longer fundamental rights, They tried everything in the book to stop Judge Kavenaugh. All collaboration fell short for no proof..

Truth is not based on gender. We have the cases of: the Duke Lacrosse team the mattress lady, The case at the University of Virginia, and the Tawna Browly case.,. Other rape victims have come out and said they remember more details. Women are not all the same as they are wives, mothers, or sisters.

The Democrats have tried evey stall tsctic they could. Many refused to meet one on -one with Kavenaugh.. Six FBI background checks were not enough. They withheld information for over two months.

Trump has been good on the bread and butter issues of job creation tax cuts and rolling back regulations. Minorities have the highest employment in years.. Where Trump hasn't kept his promises he was stopped by congress. Trump has been surprising on trade deals and foreign policy.

To control spending and cut the debt we need a NEW REPUBLICAN Congress. The Democrats are moving feather left, and more government control. For many of them the top goal is impeachment, of both Kavenaugh and Trump. Then a return to many policies of Obama.,
MittenTom
MittenTom

The polls I've seen over the weekend say that, as long as the FBI report contains no new damaging information and/or does not corroborate any of the accusations, 60% of voters approve Justice Kavanaugh's confirmation. The 40% disapproval covers all Democrats and only some left leaning independents. The press has been neither honest nor truthful. It's possible that the Republicans may not even lose the house, but I suspect the Dems will pick up fewer seats than they think, even if they do take the lower chamber. The Senate is out of reach.

Bdsconserv
Bdsconserv

The only part of David’s article I disagree with is that K’s confirmation was pushed through against popular opinion. No one I know of was against him and we can’t count Hollywood as popular opinion.

heimdall
heimdall

r's need to point out the other casualties of dr fraud's testimony any actual rape victim has just had her [and sometimes his] genuine account made far less believable by this orchestrated political attack every report has to be considered with the possibility of other explanations but difichispy and dr fraud have now tilted the scales of presumption this may already be the area of law with the most bad outcomes both false positive and false negative, this will worsen that

DriverZn
DriverZn

I agree with the author and expect both parties to run up the score among their base. However, I just don't see the last week playing well with independent voters.

We are likely to get a preview of a new congressional alignment. The Senate stays in the control of the GOP but the house goes to the Dems, possibly by a surprising margin.

I don't trust the "likely voter" metrics at all this cycle, for two reasons. I expect the age gap in enthusiasm to narrow with a larger percentage of young voters turning out compared to 2016. The second is the events of the last year have been motivating to a group of voters that don't normally turn out.

Last bit, since the GOP normally has higher turnout relative to the dems and Independents. A massive spike in turnout isn't a good thing for them as they have much less to gain.