the kavanaugh factor

Republicans saw the Kavanaugh fight as an electoral lifeline. It wasn't.

November 26, 2018
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In the weeks before the 2018 midterms and right afterward, Republicans were arguing that the contentious, narrow confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had finally awoken the Republican base, giving the party a shot of adrenaline before the election. And Republicans did unseat a handful of Democratic senators who had voted against Kavanaugh, in states like Missouri, North Dakota, and Indiana, while the lone Democrat who voted for Kavanaugh, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), won re-election. But after the election, Democrats are the ones citing the Kavanaugh fight as an electoral booster.

"Kavanaugh's nomination hurt the Republicans significantly in the election, harming them greatly in the House and doing very little damage in the Senate," said Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "That they have to claim victories they won in Missouri, Indiana, and North Dakota shows how weak they really are."


Democrats took control of the House largely due to suburban voters, especially women, angered by the Kavanaugh confirmation and President Trump's actions more generally. Democrats also defeated Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who voted for Kavanaugh, flipped an Arizona seat where Democrat Kyrsten Sinema opposed Kavanaugh and Republican Martha McSally supported his confirmation, and held on to seats in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Montana, all states Trump won in 2016 and campaigned in this year.

"Nationally, exit polls showed that more voters opposed Judge Kavanaugh's nomination than supported it, and that women were far more likely than men to be against his confirmation," notes Carl Hulse at The New York Times. And some Democrats argue that for Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), "the political repercussions of that high court push will be playing out for years to come as well." Peter Weber

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