The Kavanaugh Aftermath: Lasting Resentment or Temporary Elation? (Update)
Memeorandum.com “is an auto-generated summary of the stories that US political commentators are discussing online right now…a media-monitoring tool for sophisticated news consumers.”
Although “auto-generated,” it is a reasonably reliable monitor of our nation’s political pulse.
During the past few weeks, the “Kavanaugh affair” has been the top-written-about subject at Memeorandum.
This morning, however, at the very top, led by the Washington Post and the New York Times and followed by a score of other entries, were the headlines of the “conclusion” by Turkey that the prominent Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi “murder” team while visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Of course, there are still numerous headlines and articles about Kavanaugh et al. -– more than even a voracious politico could consume in a single day.
But this Memeorandum phenomenon does lead one to ask several questions:
• How long will the SCOTUS case hold the national attention?
• How long will it affect people’s emotions?
• Finally, setting aside for now the long-term ramifications and consequences – not very pretty – (“enormous,” says Vox), it is important to ask, how will the debacle impact the midterm elections, exactly 30 days from now?
While it may be somewhat difficult to answer the first two questions, there is no shortage of opinions on the third one.
Benjamin Wallace-Wells at The New Yorker believes the Democrats have a strong chance of winning back the House of Representatives. “Liberals are anticipating the midterm and 2020 elections in part because they believe they can transform the politics of the country, and in part because waiting for the next election is all they believe they can do,” he says.
Again Vox, “…Kavanaugh’s drawn-out, embattled confirmation hearing, ending with him being confirmed, could now have the effect of spurring more Democrats to the polls on November 6.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), believes that Democrats will be “highly motivated to turn out and punish Republicans for the limited FBI probe of Kavanaugh following his hearing.”
Jim Sleeper at Salon.com is not quite as optimistic.
Harshly criticizing the performance of “spineless” Democrats during the Kavanaugh hearings, and while hoping that Democrats “will grow spines” for the upcoming elections, Sleeper claims, “it’ll take a lot more to stop the creeping coup d’état against the republic by Trump and his backers than it would have taken in 2016.”
On the other hand, many Republicans believe that the Kavanaugh affair will stoke and unite “defiant” Republican voters in November and see the Kavanaugh vote as “both a galvanizing and polarizing moment.”
Leading that claim is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who suggests that “the GOP’s base voters could reward them with strong turnout for standing by Kavanaugh in the face of sexual assault allegations…” according to the Washington Post.
We will soon learn the real impact of Kavanaugh’s confirmation and of other related issues on the November elections.
Two days before the Senate vote, Vox suggested that Republican voters “have been energized by the partisan fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination and the sexual assault allegations against him. They view it as an unfair Democratic smear campaign against a good man” and that those voters will now turn out to support Republicans.
But, Vox adds,
…the Kavanaugh effect could be contradictory. Republicans might be improving their odds of keeping the Senate, where the GOP base will be crucial…But the Supreme Court fight might not help as much in the House elections, where suburban swing districts — and swing voters, women in particular — will decide who controls the chamber.”
And just one day before the Senate vote, Anthony Salvanto, CBS News’ director of elections and surveys, commenting on a poll showing that “the enthusiasm gap in favor of Democrats has shrunk from 10 percent to 2 percent,” commented:
Democrats say they’d be angry if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed. Republicans said they’d be angry if he wasn’t. So the question now would be if Democrats can turn that anger into turnout and sustain that motivation into November.
This author must add: It also depends on which has a longer, more lingering effect: sustained, justified anger or momentary, boisterous elation.
As Politico asks, “The operative question after Kavanaugh’s confirmation: Which side’s energy will be more intense and sustained over the next month?”
What do you think?
Also see this more recent piece, “Dems see blue ‘tsunami’ in House as Senate path narrows,” in The Hill where Max Greenwood writes:
Democrats have a better shot than ever at winning back the House majority with 30 days to go before the midterm elections, but have seen their chances of taking back the Senate erode amid the controversy surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Image Credit: Matt Wade, Flickr.com