The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Midterm Elections

It’s no secret that Democrats are furious about the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh and are planning to express their wrath at the polls.  That means the Democrats have a better than ever chance of taking back Congress this year, right?  GUESS AGAIN!  

There are two key reasons for this.  First, conservatives have gotten every bit as energized as liberals by the whole Kavanaugh experience.  From conservatives’ point of view, the Democrats pulled a witch hunt to keep a conservative from getting on the Supreme Court, and now, more than ever, conservatives, especially evangelical conservatives, think they’re standing at Armageddon battling for the Lord.  So, while liberals are making a point of getting to the polls in this midterm congressional election, so are conservatives–and both sides regard it as a battle for the nation’s moral soul.

Now, turning specifically to the Senate:, here’s the second big factor. The Democrats need to gain seats, and thus they cannot afford to lose any seats.  Well, they’re in very serious danger of losing a seat: the seat of Joe Manchin, Democrat from West Virginia, the only Democrat who voted to confirm Kavanaugh.  Manchin undoubtedly wanted to make West Virginia’s Trump voters happy, and he probably thought he could take the vote of Democrats for granted, but he may well have been wrong.  Democrats in West Virginia (as well as Democrats everywhere else) are furious at him for his pro-Kavanaugh vote, and they absolutely cannot be counted on to say “Well, we’re mad at him but we still need the Democrats to take the Senate, so let’s hold our noses and vote for him anyway.”  And of course most of West Virginia’s registered Republicans are going to vote for the Republican in that race anyway.  So he may get punished, even though the Democrats of West Virginia who punish him would be punishing their own party most of all.

Nate Silver’s statistics on the Five Thirty Eight blog site give Democrats a 3 in 4 chance of taking the House and only a 2 in 9 chance of taking the Senate.  This is, of course, the blog that had Hillary Clinton comfortably in the lead right on the eve of the 2016 election.  One the one hand, you can say that this means Nate Silver’s methods are unreliable.  However, since what they showed in 2016 is that they are prone to exaggerate the good fortunes of the Democrats, it does not necessarily follow that it works the other way.

Here’s the site.  There are, of course, lots of relevant news stories in the news feed at the right of this page on the OpenLab site that you should all be looking in on.  And, just a reminder:  No matter how long ago you took my class, if you still have access to the OpenLab site, we’d love to see your thoughts on the Discussion Board.

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