Now that the dust has settled and Brett Kavanaugh has officially been sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, the next battlefield emerges in U.S. politics — the midterm elections on November 6.
But with both the Democrats and Republicans preaching their own “blue” and “red” waves, respectively, who has the momentum with the midterms a month away?
Although Democrats had a lead in the polls earlier, the confirmation of Kavanaugh has led to what some have called the “Brett bounce,” meaning a surprising awakening of the GOP base.
In July, a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed that 78 per cent of Democrats and 68 per cent of Republicans said the November elections were “very important.” As of October 3, now 80 per cent of Democrats say the same thing and 78 per cent of Republicans do as well.
WATCH: Republicans elevate Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court
The same poll shows that Republicans closed a 10-point enthusiasm deficit with Democrats from July down to just two points.
Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has expressed his own surprise in the rise of enthusiasm among Republicans following Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“It’s energized our base going into the election in a way we had not been able to figure out how to do prior to this,” McConnell told the Associated Press. “The base is on fire. I never predicted this.”
However, one has to wonder if the enthusiasm will last another four weeks when voters head to the polls. As the New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman pointed out, the anger from Democrats might outlast the “high” from Republicans.
Anger has been proven to be a strong motivator for voting, with the University of Delaware reporting that anger and anxiety are strong drivers for voters in the midterms.
Currently, Kavanaugh’s confirmation may improve Republicans’ chances of holding the Senate, which is vulnerable to the Democrats taking a majority, as several Democrats are up for reelection in states Trump won in 2016 and still remains popular. But Kavanaugh’s confirmation may not help so much in the House elections, where suburban swing districts — and women in particular — will decide who controls the chamber.
The Senate elections are being fought in mostly Republican states, where conservative voter turnout could be decisive, while the House elections and its important suburban swing districts may not be swayed by Kavanaugh too much as they typically are not so easily excited by partisan fights.
History certainly isn’t on the Republicans’ side. In only three elections since the Civil War (1934, 1998 and 2002) has the president’s party not lost House seats in a midterm election.