Regardless what the absolute truth is about Brett Kavanaugh during his high school and college days – and we'll likely never know with certainty – the fact is, Senate Democrats stooped to lowly political warfare to try to derail his confirmation. And while it looked like the dirty tricks might work in their favor early on, it now seems the strategy may be backfiring. Polling indicates that the Kavanaugh circus is energizing Republican voters.
An NPR-PBS-Marist poll this week found there is now a negligible difference between the percentage of Democrats and Republicans who consider the upcoming mid-term elections to be "very important." That change is significant because when the same poll was taken in July – well before the Kavanaugh hearings began – the percentage of Democrats who consider the mid-terms very important was significantly higher than Republicans. In the new poll, the "very important" response from Republicans is up twelve percent. Pollsters are convinced this is the Kavanaugh effect.
That trend is also reflected in polling from six states with competitive Senate races: Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas where Republicans have either narrowed the gap or pulled ahead, largely thanks to the Kavanaugh battle. Nationally, Republican donations are up 175% in the last week.
Until yesterday, only two Senate Democrats up for reelection – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota – had not publicly opposed Kavanaugh. Heitkamp is considered more likely than Manchin to lose in November, yet she announced yesterday that she will vote "no" on Kavanaugh. Manchin is apparently still reading the latest FBI report, or more likely, testing which way the political wind is currently blowing in West Virginia.
Democrats had Republicans right where they wanted them – divided over President Trump. They were ripe for the taking.
Democrats had Republicans right where they wanted them – divided over President Trump. They were ripe for the taking. The last thing you would want to do strategically is anything to make the different Republican camps come together on an issue. Democrats had one job, but they wasted their anti-Trump political capital on trying to take down a Supreme Court nominee who wasn't even the most conservative pick on Trump's shortlist. Imagine what this process would have been like if Trump had picked Amy Coney Barrett.
That's not to say Kavanaugh's confirmation is a done deal of course. It will be shocking if there's not some late-breaking, last-ditch, new accusation or line of attack on Kavanaugh today ahead of the full Senate vote tomorrow.