Con­tro­versy of the week

Which party will get a Ka­vanaugh wave?

The Week (US) - - 6 News -

“Democrats just killed the blue wave,” said in For months, the pun­dits and the polls have pre­dicted ma­jor gains for Democrats in next month’s 2018 midterms, giv­ing them con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and even a shot at tak­ing the Se­nate. But last week’s bit­ter con­fir­ma­tion fight over Judge Brett Ka­vanaugh has changed every­thing. Be­fore the hear­ings, Democrats held a 10-point lead in the so-called en­thu­si­asm gap—the per­cent­age of party vot­ers who con­sider the midterms “very im­por­tant.” But the Democrats’ “ugly, op­por­tunis­tic po­lit­i­cal war to per­son­ally de­stroy a man with a stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion” has wo­ken up Repub­li­cans. Last week, an NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll found that the Democrats’ edge in voter en­thu­si­asm for the midterms has shrunk to only 2 points (82 to 80 per­cent), said Margot Cleve­land in USA To­day. Repub­li­can women are now even more fired up to vote (83 per­cent) than their Demo­cratic coun­ter­parts (79 per­cent). Why? Be­cause women don’t want to see “their in­no­cent fathers, hus­bands, broth­ers, or sons” sub­jected to the kind of shame­less smear cam­paign that nearly ru­ined Ka­vanaugh. Their anger has “un­leashed a red wave” that will limit Demo­cratic gains in Novem­ber.

“Not so fast, Repub­li­cans,” said Douglas Schoen in TheHill. com. While Repub­li­can women did rally around Ka­vanaugh, surveys of women as a whole show that only 30 per­cent be­lieved Ka­vanaugh’s de­nials that as a hard-drink­ing teenager, he sex­u­ally as­saulted Chris­tine Blasey Ford. Democrats still hold a roughly 12-point ad­van­tage among women in the generic bal­lot. Even worse for Repub­li­cans, said James Arkin in Politico.com, they won last week’s con­fir­ma­tion fight. With Ka­vanaugh now com­fort­ably en­sconced on the court, GOP anger will likely sub­side, whereas the anger of Democrats, who be­lieve Repub­li­cans know­ingly seated a per­jur­ing abuser, will only in­ten­sify. The Repub­li­cans’ “Brett bounce” may be real, in other words, “but sus­tain­ing that mo­men­tum through Election Day won’t be easy.”

If any­one knows how to keep Repub­li­cans an­gry, it’s Pres­i­dent Trump, said Peter Hamby in Van­i­tyFair.com. In tweets and in red-state ral­lies over the past week, the “mad pup­pet mas­ter of iden­tity pol­i­tics” has broad­ened the Ka­vanaugh hear­ings into a dystopian night­mare in which mil­i­tant left-wing “mobs” are out to de­stroy de­cent, beer-drink­ing white men ev­ery­where for some­thing dumb they did decades ago. Liberals may roll their eyes, but it was ex­actly this kind of base-rous­ing, fear­mon­ger­ing rhetoric that got Trump elected in the first place. Here in “Trump coun­try,” said Gary Abernathy in Wash­ing­ton­Post.com, we saw on our own TV screens that Democrats and the lib­eral me­dia have adopted a “pre­sumed guilty” stan­dard for men and Repub­li­cans. For any Repub­li­can who had been think­ing of sit­ting out the midterms, this was “just what the doc­tor or­dered.”

The Ka­vanaugh bounce is al­ready sub­sid­ing, said Jennifer Rubin in Wash­ing­ton­Post.com. A new Post poll of 69 cru­cial House “bat­tle­ground” races showed a mas­sive 19-point swing to­ward Democrats since 2016; a new Politico poll shows the “en­thu­si­asm gap” is back to where it was be­fore the hear­ings and that by 46 to 40 per­cent Amer­i­cans say the Se­nate should not have el­e­vated Ka­vanaugh to the court. Trump, mean­while, con­tin­ues to crank up Demo­cratic rage by mock­ing sur­vivors of sex­ual abuse. “As the Ka­vanaugh is­sue inevitably fades for Repub­li­cans, Democrats need to keep their eyes on the prize,” said Eu­gene Robin­son in The Washington Post. If they can’t get their vot­ers to the polls on Nov. 6 af­ter the GOP’s lat­est ju­di­cial power play, “then they don’t de­serve to win.”

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