Published 12:45 PM EDT Oct 9, 2018
For weeks Democrats have been saying the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, and the ensuing Republican effort to jam through a tainted nominee bode very, very ill for the GOP. Now that Kavanaugh has been confirmed with “yes” votes from all but one Republican senator, Republicans who were already preparing themselves for a political reckoning this Election Day might as well throw in the towel.
Kavanaugh was a historically unpopular and toxic nominee who disqualified himself repeatedly throughout his confirmation process. Placing him on the Supreme Court through a rigged, partisan process has only added fuel to the anti-GOP fire already burning across the country.
First consider the polling. A poll commissioned by Demand Justice the week before Ford’s testimony suggested that Democrats in key battleground states — Florida, Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota — wanted their Democratic senators to oppose Kavanaugh. A hypothetical yes vote for Kavanaugh would suppress Democratic turnout those senators desperately need.
Kavanaugh's unpopularity will hurt at the polls
Then there are the eye-popping numbers that followed the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing on Sept. 27: an 18-point drop in net support by Republican women polled by Morning Consult and Politico, and an Oct. 1 Quinnipiac poll that showed Americans opposing confirmation 48 to 42 percent.
Women in that poll opposed confirmation 55-37 percent. And the percentage is much higher for Democratic women; more than nine in 10 in another poll disapproved of Kavanaugh. He's the least popular Supreme Court nominee in a generation.
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The net result? A Kavanaugh confirmation only serves to rev up the Democratic base and ensure robust Democratic turnout. And since he has been confirmed, Republican voters may be more likely to forget this by Election Day. Democratic voters — Democratic women in particular — will remember.
A less quantifiable factor should have Republicans even more afraid: the raw emotion and intensity elicited by this flawed, embarrassing process.
Christine Blasey Ford's testimony resonated
Ford’s testimony triggered something deep within women across the country: our colleagues, our apolitical female friends, women of all backgrounds and political stripes who know all too well the feelings of shame and self-doubt that come with speaking truth to power. This is something that men — Republicans, Democrats, and political pundits — will never understand. And it is something that, as a result, has been vastly underestimated.
The impact of this lack of sympathy for what is a far from unusual female experience cannot be overstated. And it will be on full display in the form of backlash to the GOP in a few short weeks.
Republicans may think they just netted a win. But in doing so they have sacrificed their integrity and their humility. And they did so in front of a vast audience of Americans. In a midterm election cycle that was already careening towards catastrophe for Republicans over health care and tax cuts, Kavanaugh’s confirmation will bolster a historic Democratic turnout led by women.
Amelia Penniman is the Communications Director for Senate Campaigns for American Bridge. Follow her on Twitter: @AmeliaPenniman