Brett Kavanaugh is now an associate justice of the Supreme Court following possibly the most contentious confirmation process in history, but there are mixed feelings about how the events will affect the upcoming midterm elections.
President Donald Trump has been promising a ‘red wave’ for weeks, despite polls indicating the Democrats are ahead. He’s now using Kavanaugh’s confirmation as way to rile up his base – an essential voting bloc if Republicans want to retain the house.
“You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob,” Trump tweeted. “Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law – not the rule of the mob. VOTE REPUBLICAN!”
This is a change of tone from earlier this year, when Trump was so confident in a Republican victory that he rarely called on his supporters to vote. Senior Republicans have tried to paint Democrats as unhinged and obsessed with getting power, as Senator Lindsey Graham did in his grandstanding speech. But many voters will reach the opposite conclusion: that the GOP has disregarded decency and due process for partisan ends.
While the Kavanaugh controversy has certainly excited core Republican voters, it may have damaging effects beyond dyed in the wool Republicans. Women voters are particularly outraged by the Senate’s handling of the Kavanaugh confirmation. Women, especially young women, will be crucial if the Democrats are to secure the House and Senate.
The Kavanaugh confirmation has highlighted and exacerbated the deep divisions in American society, while the GOP majority has moved further from political norms. Media commentators and experts have expressed serious concerns about democratic norms following the tactics used to confirm Kavanaugh. It is not yet clear what impact the controversies will have on the midterm elections.