Tuesday, Apr 16, 2024

GOP Midterm Prospects Rise After Supreme Court Fight

The battle over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has energized the Republican Party and rejuvenated their hopes to maintain or expand their current 51-49 control of the Senate. Some Republicans are now even daring to hope that the resurgence of GOP voters will defy widespread predictions that their narrow 23-vote majority in the House will be swept away by a “blue wave” of anti-Trump Democrat voters.

Kavanaugh’s nomination was a serious issue. His confirmation has guaranteed conservatives a reliable 5-4 majority on the politically sensitive cases which will reach the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future. Unable to attack his impressive judicial record, Democrats resorted to sensational last minute attacks intended to destroy Kavanaugh’s personal reputation. But the strategy boomeranged when Kavanaugh’s accusers proved unable to corroborate their allega-tions. Not only were Democrats and the cooperating mainstream media unable to block the nomination, they were also embarrassed by the exposure of the utterly ruthless tactics they were using. Once an FBI investigation proved that the allegations against Kavanaugh could not be verified, it became clear that his accusers were trying to destroy an innocent man for parti-san advantage, and public opinion began to turn against them.

Before Democrats launched their desperate, last-minute attempt to block Kavanaugh’s nomina-tion, many 2016 Trump voters across the country had no more than a passing interest in the outcome of the midterm elections. Polls were predicting that the more highly motivated anti-Trump voters across the country would turn out in much greater numbers and easily deliver control of the House to the Democrats. It was even considered possible that Democrats might also overcome the politically unfavorable Senate re-election map and capture control over that chamber as well. But that was before the media circus that Democrats unleashed against Ka-vanaugh served as a wake-up call to rouse the anger of formerly indifferent GOP voters.


The first sign of that the campaign to destroy Kavanaugh had gone too far was the strong reac-tion of his professional colleagues, including many independents and some liberals, who knew and respected him over many years as a fine person and a distinguished jurist. They spoke out unanimously in his defense. The dispute over Kavanaugh also reminded Republican voters of the importance of the outcome of midterm elections, especially in the Senate, which will decide the fate of all future Trump judicial nominees.

The extent of the GOP voter awakening is showing up in the latest polls of Senate races across the country, which indicate Republican candidates making significant gains. According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, Republicans now hold leads in 50 states, with six more hot-ly contested Senate races still rated as tossups. If the current leaders in those tossup races hold, Republicans would enjoy two net pickups, in North Dakota and Missouri, yielding a 53-47 margin. While the final outcome remains uncertain, these polls indicate a clear reversal of the previous trends, and that the Democrat goal of winning control of the Senate may now be slip-ping out of reach.

Democrat candidates still appear to be leading in more than enough races to give them control of the House, but the polling in House races is inherently less reliable than in the larger statewide races. This has led some Democrat strategists to fear their party may be repeating the 2016 mistake of overconfidence in the Clinton campaign. Jesse Ferguson was a deputy press secretary for that campaign. He remembers very clearly, less than a month before Election Day 2016, the Clinton camp was very comfortable with their better than 70% odds for victory. When the votes were counted, they simply could not believe that their candidate had lost to Donald Trump. That is why Ferguson fears that the same thing could happen again this Novem-ber.

Historically the Democrats, as the party out of power in a midterm election, do have a right to assume that they will capture at least some of the current GOP House seats but if that number of falls short of 23, Republicans will still emerge with narrowed control of the House.


To bring home that point, Massachusetts Democrat Congressman Seth Moulton reminds his fellow Democrats “we’ve got to realize that this not just some unstoppable blue wave, but ra-ther a lot of tough races that will be hard-fought victories.” The quality of the individual candi-dates will matter, as will the kind of campaign that they run in the remaining three weeks be-fore Election Day. President Trump is also weighing in personally by dozens of attending ral-lies of his supporters across the country and urging them to support every GOP candidate who has a decent chance of winning.

If the midterm election were to be held today, polls predict a split decision, with Democrats picking up enough seats in the House to take majority control, while Republicans would retain the Senate by re-electing their incumbents and picking up a least one or two more seats being defended by Democrat incumbents from states that Trump won in 2016.


One of the most important races which will determine the future of the Senate is taking place in Texas. Republican Senator Ted Cruz is trying to fend off a serious challenge from Democrat Congressman Beto O’Rourke,

Cruz has been one of the fastest rising young stars of the national Republican party. He was the last candidate still standing out of a large and impressive field when Donald Trump wrapped up the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Their bitter primary battle left deep, lasting stars, but Cruz and Trump buried their political hatchet once O’Rourke emerged this summer as a credi-ble challenger for Cruz’s Senate seat.

National Democrat party leaders saw in O’Rourke an attractive candidate with the potential to upset one of the Senate leading Republicans. With their help, and a lot of free national media attention, O’Rourke has raised $38.1 million over the past three months. This enabled him to reduce Cruz’s 9 point lead in June to 3 points, in late September, just prior to the explosion of controversy over Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

But since the Kavanaugh awakening, the 94% of Texas’ Republican voters who say they sup-port Cruz have helped him to regain much of his initial polling lead over O’Rourke. According to reports from within the Cruz campaign, their private polling matches the unpublished results of the latest national polls giving Cruz a double-digit lead over O’Rourke.

On the issues Cruz holds enormous leads among voters who rate the economy and immigration as most important. He also holds an 8 point lead among Texans who say they care most about the Supreme Court. [Cruz voted in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation and O’Rourke said he would have voted against it.] The only issue on which Cruz trails O’Rourke is healthcare.

Perhaps the most surprising poll finding is that Texans find Cruz, who is known for his tough talk against his opponents, to be more likable than O’Rourke, the affable darling of the national media, by a 10 percent margin.

Texas is one of four states, including Nevada, Arizona and Florida, whose large Hispanic voter populations may play a crucial role in determining which party emerge from the midterms in control of the U.S. Senate for the next two years.


O’Rourke is a white liberal who has long identified closely with Texas’ large Hispanic popula-tion. He speaks a fluent Spanish, often switching languages during town hall meetings, and pre-fers to be called by his Hispanic nickname Beto, rather than his birth name, Robert.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Cruz has long been one of the GOP’s most outspoken advocates for stricter immigration policies, and he has campaigned successfully emphasizing his Hispanic heritage. His latest campaign ad features his father talking about his escape in the 1950’s from Castro’s Cuba. Cruz enjoys the support of 37% of Texas’ Hispanic voters, slightly more than Trump received in carrying the state in the 2016 election.

Cruz’s Latino voter support would seem to be roughly in line with previous Republican statewide candidates in Texas. In other words, despite the controversy over Trump’s immigra-tion policies, GOP candidates supporting the president do not seem to be suffering a loss of Hispanic voter support as a result. Similarly, to the disappointment of national Democrat party leaders, the same neutral Latino voter reaction to Republican candidates is being seen in statewide races in Nevada, Arizona and Florida as well.

Another state in which the GOP candidate for Senate has gotten a significant boost is Missouri, where the state’s attorney general, Josh Hawley. At the beginning of September, after he came out strongly in favor of Kavanaugh’s nomination, Hawley’s campaign experienced a surge, pulling him slightly ahead of two-term Senator Claire McCaskill.

Hawley seems confident that Missouri voters will reward him for his outspoken support of Trump’s choice. In an interview shortly after Kavanaugh won confirmation, Hawley said, “When Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh, they knew vaguely who he was, [and] they were vaguely supportive. . . Now they know him, they know his wife, they know his daughters. So many people watched the hearings. They are furious about the disgraceful behavior of the U.S. Senate and some Democrats. They’re furious that Judge Kavanaugh was smeared like this, that his wife and daughters had to go through this.”

In his latest campaign ad, Hawley focused exclusively on the behavior of Democrats during the confirmation battle. “People in our Senate today, they’ve created a circus. Liberals like Claire McCaskill and Chuck Schumer, they don’t want the truth. They only want power. … I’m Josh Hawley and I will fight for the Supreme Court. It’s the last line of defense for our values. It’s worth the battle.”

McCaskill claims that her opposition to Kavanaugh had nothing to do with the last-minute ac-cusations that were made against him and was based solely on her opposition to some of his written decisions during his twelve years as a D.C. circuit court judge. She insists that she had nothing to do with the Democrat attempt to destroy his reputation, but Missouri voters also know that she did nothing to stop them, either.

Hawley is also campaigning on his support for President Trump’s policies. McCaskill is trying to have it both ways. She claims to be bipartisan, but also says that her presence in the Senate serves as a check on the president. She is reluctant to talk about the Kavanaugh confirmation. Her opponent believes that she is making a fatal political mistake.

“Voters in Missouri voted for Donald Trump by 19 points. Supreme Court judges were a huge part of that for many people,” Hawley said. “Our folks want a conservative Court. It’s a big rea-son they voted for President Trump.” He seems confident they will vote for him as well.


Republicans seem most confident of a Senate pickup in North Dakota, where polling has been skimpy but the latest indications show Kevin Cramer holding a double-digit lead of Democrat incumbents Heidi Heitkamp. Trump carried North Dakota in 2016 by a huge margin, and Heitkamp had been one of just three Democrat senators who had refused to come out early against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, presumably for fear of alienating the president. Heitkamp’s late decision to oppose the confirmation was widely interpreted as both a tacit admission that she expects to lose in November, and an attempt to prove her loyalty to her party to keep her options open as a potential Democrat candidate in the future.

Republicans are also keeping a close eye on the Senate race in Florida where former GOP Gov-ernor Rick Scott has mounted a strong challenge to 3-term incumbent Democrat Senator Bill Nelson. This race has been very close, with the two exchanging a narrow lead over the summer, and no statewide polls released since the Kavanaugh confirmation was decided. A win in Flori-da would be an unexpected pickup for Republicans in the midterms.


Two Republican senators, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, had clashed re-peatedly with President Trump over the past two years, which contributed to their decisions not to run for re-election this November. As a result, their seats are open, with the candidates from both parties locked in close races. In strongly pro-Trump Tennessee, Republican Congress-woman Marsha Blackburn has opened a strong lead over Democrat Phil Bredesen. However, in the Arizona race, two congresswomen, Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema, seem locked in a virtual.

Another closely watched Senate race is in Nevada, where Dean Heller was seen as the most vulnerable Republican incumbent running for re-election. Initially, he trailed Democrat Jacky Rosen, but since Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Heller has overtaken Rosen in the polls and now holds a small but firm single digit lead. At the same time, Heller has mended his political fenc-es with Trump, with whom he has had his public differences in the past, and now enjoys full White House support.

While overall, the midterm race for control of the Senate remains close, its character seems to have been changed by the voter reaction to the disgraceful Democrat effort to discredit Ka-vanaugh. The election is no longer a referendum on the voters’ personal views of Trump’s pres-idency or the success of his policies. Nor is it about the breadth of the appeal of the socialist, big government policies which Democrats have borrowed from Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign platform.


This midterm will be seen as a contest between two competing visions for the future of Ameri-ca. Donald Trump has promised to Make America Great Again, and the policies he has imple-mented so far reveals what that means by that. He would unleash the power of the free market by restoring the rewards for individual initiative, encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit, and providing new economic opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds. He would put the needs of the United States and its citizens first, reward its friends abroad and threaten to punish its enemies unless they agree to do the right thing.

So far, his policies appear to be working, but he has had to fight the Democrats every step of the way, who refuse to give him credit for any of his accomplishments. Instead, they insist that Donald Trump is an unprincipled liar, traitor, narcissist, bigot, and mortal threat to the future of the country he leads.


The fight over the Kavanaugh nomination has revealed the desperation that has overtaken the Democrats. Their leaders are determined to remove Trump from power at any cost, and go to any extremes, no matter who else gets hurt.

Rejecting the system of checks and balances established by the founding fathers to protect the citizens of this country from the tyranny of the majority, Democrats see the Electoral College and the U.S. Senate as obstacles preventing them from wielding absolute power. If they cannot win according to the rules set by the U.S. Constitution, they are prepared to do away with them.

Once they have gained control of both houses of Congress, Democrat leaders admit they intend to find any excuse to impeach Donald Trump and remove him from office. Democrat Con-gressman Jerrold Nadler, the ranking member of the House Judiciary committee, says that should he becomes chairman, he intends to launch another investigation to impeach Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh to establish Democrat control over the third independent branch of the U.S. government, the judiciary.

The ultimate hope of the activists who have seized control of the Democrat party is to com-pletely transform the United States into their ideal of a European-style socialist society. They promise to use the power of big government to grant free medical care, free universal college education, a guaranteed $15 per hour minimum wage, and a carbon-free energy infrastructure. All they want in exchange is individual freedoms, and the ability of government to exert total control over every aspect of everyone’s lives.

We’ve witnessed the results of such promises in the former Soviet Union, before its collapse. We see it today in Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela. Their citizens live without freedom, hu-man rights or hope for a better future under an unrelenting socialist tyranny.


Even Republicans who don’t like Donald Trump are supporting him today because they see him as the only practical alternative to the Democrats’ vision of the future they plan for the United States.

The Kavanaugh battle has finally united the GOP behind the president. Even the most promi-nent “Never Trumpers,” including Erik Erickson, Hugh Hewitt, Brett Stephens and Nathaniel Blake, who could never before bring themselves to support the president, have gained a new appreciation for Trump’s “take no prisoners” political hardball attitude which they now recog-nize as essential during the final days before the midterms.

That GOP will need to maintain that unity during a very tough 2020 presidential campaign which, unofficially, is already well underway. Democrats have made their battle to defeat Trump personal, a political fight to the death. Senior Democrat leaders, including Hillary Clin-ton, have publicly announced what has been apparent for a long time. The normal rules of American politics requiring a minimum level of civility do not apply when attacking Donald Trump or anyone associated with his government.


Trump’s supporters in 2016 already knew that, but the revelation has come a shock to estab-lishment Republican party leaders. They still believed in the old ground rules which called for bipartisanship in the interests of national security and a spirit of fair play and honest compro-mise in policymaking when it was for the good of the country. But those practices and values have been in steady decline in Washington over the past 30 years. That is why it is helpful that Democrat party leaders have now publicly declared them to be obsolete.

Their announcement sets the stage for the outcome of the November midterm election which will help to determine the future direction of this country. Will it take the next step towards Trump’s vision of a return to American greatness, or will voters turn away, scared by fake news portrayal of Trump as an evil monster, and lured by the Democrats misleading siren calls to a socialist future?



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