Supreme Court Nomination Battle Fires Up GOP Voters

Republicans are hoping that the partisan fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court will energize party members to cast ballots in next month’s mid-term congressional elections.

Republicans are hoping that the partisan fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court will energize party members to cast ballots in next month’s mid-term congressional elections.

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Supreme Court Nomination Battle Fires Up GOP Voters

– By Jim Owen

Republicans are hoping that the partisan fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court will energize party members to cast ballots in next month’s mid-term congressional elections.

Before a Senate committee held hearings to consider the judge’s confirmation, GOP leaders were worried that part of their electoral base would not turn out at the polls. In a national survey during the summer, 10 percent more Democrats than Republicans said they thought the election was crucial. Following Kavanaugh’s testimony, a poll indicated that the margin had narrowed to 2 percent, which experts consider a statistical tie.

At stake is control of the House of Representatives, where Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to seize the majority. The party also has a slim chance of taking over the Senate. Winning either chamber would give Democrats an opportunity to thwart Donald Trump’s legislative agenda, hold hearings to investigate the administration’s scandals, and possibly initiate impeachment proceedings against the president.

Protesters Motivate Republicans

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mockingly praised Democratic lawmakers and their supporters for sparking Republican interest in the election. The Kentucky Republican argued that the mob of spirited demonstrators who loudly protested Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill and at the Supreme Court spurred Republicans to action.

Kavanaugh
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“Ironically, the behavior of first Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and then the overreach of the protesters  have energized the Republican base, particularly in the red states where we’re trying to pick up seats out across America,McConnell said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He continued: “So, I want to thank the other side for the tactics that have allowed us to energize and get involved our voters. But everybody knows how energized the Democratic side is for a whole variety of different reasons, and so our energy and enthusiasm was lagging until this.”

On the same television program, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina proclaimed: “I’m glad that those who tried to overturn the rule of law and replace it with mob rule lost. I’ve never been more pissed in my life.” Referring to former President Obama’s two appointments to the Supreme Court, the lawmaker recalled: “I voted for Sotomayor and Kagan. I would have never done this to them. This was character assassination; this was wanting power too much.”

The Confirmation Debate

The Senate voted 50-48 to place Kavanaugh on the nation’s highest court. One Republican was absent for the vote, while another GOP senator abstained. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who is running for re-election in a conservative state that supported Trump two years ago, was the lone Democrat to back the controversial judge.

Congressional Democrats initially opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination because of his right-wing stance on a range of issues. They warned that his appointment would give the Supreme Court a solid 5-4 conservative majority that could overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Liberals allege that Kavanaugh’s rulings on the federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., indicate that he tends to favor corporations over workers and environmental concerns. The judge could become part of a Supreme Court majority that rejects LGBT rights and weakens Obamacare. Kavanaugh has said that the Constitution does not allow for the criminal indictment of a sitting president, which some critics of the current administration believe is the primary reason Trump picked him.

Democratic leaders, pointing to allegations of sexual assault and perjury by Kavanaugh, are suggesting that they might impeach the new justice if they win control of the House. The threat could backfire if Republican voters respond by casting ballots in higher-than-expected numbers.

Effect on Election

Ronna McDaniel, a member of the Republican National Committee, said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” that the Kavanaugh issue is helping (the GOP) across the board in House and Senate races. She added: “Our job is to turn out our base. Our base is highly energized right now, and the Kavanaugh hearing has just highlighted how important this election is for them.”

White, working-class males are particularly motivated to vote. Such voters tend to agree with Trump that the #MeToo movement has created a very scary time for men.

Democratic strategist Steve Schale, reacting to the president’s statement, told The Morning Call: “The idea that it’s a terrible time to be a young, white guy is completely absurd.” While there is “some evidence that the Kavanaugh stuff is galvanizing Republicans, particularly Republican men, it’s coming at a price,” he said. “We’re seeing Republican women throw their hands up.”

Voter excitement is critical in congressional elections, which usually do not draw nearly as many people to the polls as presidential races. Ever since Trump took office, Democrats have been vocal and engaged in opposition to his rhetoric and policies. Now, with the mid-terms looming, the so-called “enthusiasm gap” between the two parties is narrowing.

The Kavanaugh story “is making the two groups of people who are already mad at each other in America even madder,” said Gary Pearce, a Democratic strategist in North Carolina. “To me, the question is, ‘who is maddest?’ ” It may be energizing the right, especially people who don’t like Trump and may not have been motivated to vote. It is a substitute for Hillary (Clinton).”

Effect on Parties

The Republican National Committee and allied organizations received more than $3 million, an all-time high, in online campaign contributions during the weekend following Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Many of the donors said they were upset about how Democratic senators and protesters treated the nominee.

Democrats are also benefiting from the controversy. The party’s fundraising portal, ActBlue, raked in $25 million in two days. Emily’s List, which supports Democratic women running for office, also set a record for online contributions.

 

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