Commentary: How Will The "Kavanaugh Effect" Sway Midterm Elections?

Oct 10, 2018

So who, besides Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump, won this nasty, bitter, ugly mud-wrestling match that was Kavanaugh's narrow confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court?

It is almost ludicrous to declare anyone the winner – even the nominee, who probably didn't do his future reputation for judicial temperament any favors with his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But this is politics, and it is one month minus a day until the midterm elections, so the eternal rules of politics declare that winners must be crowned and losers scorned.

The Democrats? The Republicans?

Democrats say the Senate Republicans' out-of-hand rejection of the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh by his chief accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, which she said took place 36 years ago, have infuriated women voters who know what it is like to be the victims of sexual harassment.

Christine Blasey Ford testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.
Credit Saul Loeb / AP

They, and like-minded male voters, will rise up on Nov. 6 and vote out the Republicans who are running Congress like a good ol' boys club.

"We must not agonize; we must organize,'' House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in an open letter to her caucus Monday. "People must vote."

Former state representative Connie Pillich, a lawyer and co-chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, told WVXU the Kavanaugh confirmation will light a fire under women voters all over the country.

"Women don't vote as a block,'' Pillich said. "But women who have experienced the kind of thing Judge Kavanaugh was accused of, or know people who have – well, this confirmation process has revived all those horrible experiences. They will not forget when they go to vote."

Pillich said she thinks they will also remember, as she will, Kavanaugh's "deportment as a witness. It was inappropriate.

"He was rude, out of control and sarcastic,'' Pillich said. "What kind of judicial temperament is that?"

Mark R. Weaver, a Republican political strategist from Columbus, said the Democrats are reading it all wrong.

"This has not been a Ford versus Kavanaugh argument,'' Weaver said. "It has been about Democrats versus Republicans. People are looking at this through a partisan filter, not a gender filter."

Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, said that since the confirmation of Kavanaugh Saturday "there's been a noticeable change in enthusiasm from our base of volunteers. And it's all caused by the overreaching of the Democrats in trying to thwart the will of the elected president."

Speaking of President Trump, he threw some gasoline on the fire Monday when he said that Ford's congressional testimony was "a hoax" by people "who now want to impeach a brilliant jurist." Remember that line: You will hear it again and again between now and the election.

You will hear it Friday night if you happen to be at the Warren County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, Ohio, where Trump will be trying to have some of his political magic rub off on Ohio's GOP senate candidate, Jim Renacci, and U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, a 22-year GOP incumbent who is in the fight of his political life.

We will guarantee plenty of Ford-bashing and bragging over the confirmation of Kavanaugh as well.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has already gotten into the act. He told Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper and website, "I want to thank the mob, because they have done the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing our base."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives to a standing ovation at the ceremonial swearing-in of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018.
Credit Susan Walsh / AP

Pillich said she was appalled by McConnell's remark.

"Women who have been violated and the men who love and care about them are now a mob?'' Pillich said. "Power is the only thing Mitch McConnell cares about."

So, who will win this argument on Nov. 6?

We can't say. We don't know. It will take a close look at not only the results, but the turnout and the demographics of the electorate.

We can say only one thing with certainty:

The Kavanaugh debate is not going away. Even after this mid-term election does.

Credit Jim Nolan / WVXU

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