With that, Kavanaugh continued to shake up the midterm election environment while Trump embraced the change. Both the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hit the “mob” of protesters demonstrating against Kavanaugh, ...
Even at the ceremonial swearing-in of newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump took aim at the forces who opposed him.
Trump apologized to Kavanaugh for the “terrible pain and suffering” inflicted by sexual assault allegations during his confirmation battle. “Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception,” he said, declaring Kavanaugh “innocent” of the charges. "What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency, and due process.”
With that, Kavanaugh continued to shake up the midterm election environment while Trump embraced the change. Both the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hit the “mob” of protesters demonstrating against Kavanaugh, presenting GOP electoral success in November as a bulwark against mob rule.
But a full-throated embrace of Kavanaugh and rejection of the women who made accusations against him — Trump called those who disseminated the allegations “evil” in remarks earlier Monday and previously told reporters in a press conference that the accusations he had faced made him skeptical of claims against Kavanaugh — risks turning off the suburban women who may determine which party controls the House.
Nevertheless, Kavanaugh seems to be paying immediate dividends in the red-state Senate races that give Republicans their best chance of defending and even expanding their majority in the upper chamber.
Several public polls have shown a fading “enthusiasm gap” between Democratic and Republican voters since the Kavanaugh fight escalated. The campaign arm for House Republicans reported an explosion in small-dollar donations. “[W]hat the Kavanaugh experience has done is gotten Republicans excited,” Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, chairman of the NRCC, told Fox News.
Other polls showed Republicans pulling away in red-state Senate races. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., both broke 50 percent in the CBS/YouGov polls. Blackburn is running to replace Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who voted against Kavanaugh, is down by nearly 9 points in the RealClearPolitics average. The Cook Political Report has shifted the Montana Senate race in the GOP’s favor.
[More: Kavanaugh catapults Marsha Blackburn into lead in key Tennessee Senate race]
Phil Bredesen, Blackburn’s Democratic foe, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is running for re-election in a state Trump won by 42 points, both came out for Kavanaugh last week to the consternation of liberal groups.
“Trump understood that if Kavanaugh was going to get confirmed, the buck stops with him and he has to take the reins to blast through the media gauntlet and the Democratic treachery,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Senate Republicans don’t seem to understand how to fight or the stakes for 2018. Trump decided to put Kavanaugh on his back and literally will his confirmation.”
Senate Republicans largely followed suit — only Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted “present” — and have also echoed Trump’s criticism of the anti-Kavanaugh mob. Centrist Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, delivered the final blow.
“Trump knows he has the biggest megaphone among Republicans and that the various wings of the GOP trust his political nose, even when they don’t agree with his tactics,” O’Connell said.
The GOP’s hold on the House remains precarious and the path to the majority may run through suburban areas where Trump is a turn-off, women dislike the Kavanaugh nomination and Democrats are energized. Kavanaugh’s poll numbers in the country as a whole are not very strong, even if he is popular with the Republican base, and some of the “Brett effect” could fade now that GOP voters have gotten the outcome they wanted.
Democrats outside the Trump states are also grappling with what Kavanaugh means. Many Democratic senators with presidential ambitions used his confirmation hearings as a dress rehearsal.
“Kavanaugh's confirmation will raise two questions for the Democrat presidential race in 2020,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. “Will the confirmation battle help women candidates like [Elizabeth] Warren and [Kamala] Harris? Will the confirmation battle make Joe Biden more vulnerable to attacks on his handling of the Thomas confirmation? The answer to both questions is yes.”
For Trump and the GOP, however, the answers to Kavanaugh-related questions will come sooner.
midterm elections,Brett Kavanaugh,Supreme Court,President Trump