Gender wars heat up for midterms
Attacks on Kavanaugh may create backlash
WASHINGTON – Women who have been driving the midterm elections as energized voters and first-time candidates had already fueled a recordbreaking gender gap that was boosting Democrats.
Now the battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has provoked a backlash among those who argue the #MeToo movement has gone too far, a reaction that is increasing the odds Republicans can hold control of the Senate.
Call it the gender wars, a midterm battle that could be a dry run for the presidential election in 2020 and fundamentally reshape the nation’s political parties.
The irony is this: It was the defeat of the first woman nominated for the presidency by a major party that helped spur a new era of political engagement by millions of women. Since Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016 to Donald Trump, his disruptive leadership and hard-line policies on immigration and other issues have forged bonds with core supporters but also opened a breach with many women, including some GOPleaning and independent women who in the past have voted for Republicans.
The result has been a midterm election defined by women. “Women candidates, women voters and women issues are all together at the forefront, and that’s been true the whole cycle,” Democratic pollster Margie Omero said.
The aftermath of Kavanaugh’s dramatic nomination hearings and narrow confirmation has spotlighted the gender divide that has inflamed some voters since Trump claimed the Republican presidential nomination two years ago. One side saw a credible woman whose account of sexual assault against a powerful man was not believed and not taken seriously. The other side saw an accomplished man whose reputation was being smeared by an accuser who couldn’t provide proof of her allegations or remember some details of her attack.
“The Democrats’ shameless campaign of political and personal destruction,” President Trump declared at a campaign rally in Topeka, Kansas, hours after Kavanaugh had been confirmed
That message seems to be resonating, energizing Republican voters who had been less enthused about the midterms than Democrats.