by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In a bad year for Republicans, the GOP successfully used Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious Supreme Court confirmation as a rallying call ahead of last year’s midterm elections. But Democratic presidential candidates are running headlong into the issue ahead of the 2020 presidential election regardless.
Reporting from a pair of New York Times reporters on new—though hazy and unsubstantiated—sexual assault allegation has thrust Kavanaugh back in the news. Several leading Democratic candidates for president quickly seized on the report, now revised to note that the alleged victim of the assault doesn’t recall the incident, to call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment from the Court. …
… Republicans, including President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, cheered the reemergence of debate surrounding Kavanaugh’s confirmation as an issue in the presidential election. Even before the Times report and a spate of new books about the confirmation fight put Kavanaugh back in the news, Trump’s reelection campaign along with that of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was selling t-shirts touting Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just keep WINNING,” a joint fundraising site said, calling the duo “back-to-back Supreme Court champs.”
Midterm exit polls from CNN identified Kavanaugh as the GOP’s “secret weapon” in battleground states across the country. A majority of voters polled in each of the four states where Democrats lost a senate seat said the Kavanaugh nomination impacted their vote, and in each state those voters broke towards Republicans.