GOP fights with new energy after attacks on nominee
WASHINGTON — Political strategists in both parties suggest the Republican Party’s enthusiastic embrace of Brett Kavanaugh has shifted the political landscape by injecting new energy into the most passionate GOP voters a month before the election.
President Donald Trump’s aggressive defense of Kavanaugh has resonated particularly with white working-class men. For now, many men apparently agree with Trump’s warning that the surge in women speaking out against sexual violence in the #MeToo era has created “a very scary time” for men in America.
Energy is everything in midterm elections, which typically draw fewer eligible voters to the polls. And through the first 21 months of the Trump era, Democrats have claimed an undisputed enthusiasm advantage.
Yet even a small erosion in the socalled enthusiasm gap could make a big difference in the Democratic Party’s high-stakes push to wrest control of Congress from the GOP.
The effect is most visible in Republican-leaning states where vulnerable Democratic senators are running for re-election. Public and private polling in recent days has shifted in the GOP candidate’s favor in West Virginia, Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota.
“You can feel the energy both for the president and for his nominee in Brett Kavanaugh,” Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. “People are outraged at the way that the Democrats have totally made this process into a partisan battle and they’ve created something that should never have happened.
“And I think the message is very clear: Dems, you made a mistake here and it’s going to show up in November,” she said.
The Kavanaugh debate “is making the two groups of people who are already mad at each other in America even madder. To me, the question is, who is maddest?” said Gary Pearce, a veteran North Carolina Democratic strategist.
Just as Trump benefited from opposition to Hillary Clinton in his 2016 election, the GOP could benefit from opposition to the Democratic Party’s handling of Kavanaugh this midterm season.
“This may be energizing the right — especially people who don’t like Trump and may not have been motivated to vote,” Pearce said. “This is the substitute for Hillary.”