President Trump has made his Supreme Court pick: Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The liberal media had a conniption fit, congressional Democrats threw a tantrum, and progressive interest groups devolved into straight up hysteria. Red state Democrats, however, retreated inside the bunker, declining the White House invitation to attend the SCOTUS announcement last night. They know that’s coming. Guy touched upon this earlier this morning: voters in key states this cycle want Trump’s SCOTUS pick confirmed. In Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia, 55+ percent or more voters want Judge Kavanaugh to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vacancy. Kennedy announced his retirement a little after the official end of the 2017 SCOTUS term. He’s out on July 31.
POLL: Substantial majorities in key Senate battleground states want new SCOTUS nominee confirmed (via the Tarrance Group & SBA) --> pic.twitter.com/GaFts6y1pI— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) July 10, 2018
For the past couple of weeks, all eyes have been on the moderate GOP wing in the Senate and the red state Democrats who will be fighting for their political lives this year, especially after this vote. Hearings for Kavanaugh are set for this summer, with a final vote in early October. For some, it’s a make or break moment. CNN’s Dana Bash noted last night that Kavanaugh’s nomination particularly tricky since it makes it harder for them to build a case for opposition. It’s not impossible, but it makes it that much harder and increases the chances that whatever they do come up with to explain their no vote will come off as weak sauce and nakedly partisan. They are in a jam; a vote for Kavanaugh boosts chances of re-election and holding Democratic seats, yet they risk total abandonment by the national party. Already the Democratic path to retake the Senate is grim (via Axios):
Why it matters: It's looking nearly impossible for Democrats to take back the Senate. So the stakes are even higher for them to win the House if they're going to have any kind of congressional check on President Trump.
The state of play: The polls shows three Democratic senators are poised to lose their seats to Republicans — Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Bill Nelson in Florida and Joe Donnelly in Indiana.
Be smart... Democrats would pick up seats in Arizona and Nevada, while Republicans keep their seat in Tennessee.
Democratic bright spots: Sens. Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Jon Tester in Montana were losing by double digits to a generic GOP candidate last time we polled these states in February. They're now leading by double digits.
Our data includes an expected range under six different scenarios that measure potential turnout, giving a more complete picture of each race.
Even under the most optimistic scenarios for Democrats across all 13 states, they would still lose the same seats by a range of one percentage point to 14 percentage points.
Under Republicans' most bullish forecast, they would actually pick up six seats, the four mentioned above plus Ohio and Missouri.
The bottom line: Democrats face long odds to take back the Senate.
Right now, the two GOP senators that could give Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agita in this fight—Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski—seem to be giving Kavanaugh the stamp of approval:
“Judge Kavanaugh is off to a strong start with reactions like these from Republican Senate moderates, and that’s a very good sign of things to come,” Ron Bonjean, a GOP operative who managed White House communications during Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, told the Washington Examiner. “However, it’s a long process, and I’m sure they’re going to have a lot of questions for the judge in their private meetings, as well as during the Judiciary Committee hearing. But that initial reaction is a positive thing.”
After President Trump nominated Kavanaugh Monday night, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she wanted to assess the nominee, but agreed he has "impressive credentials and extensive experience."
On Tuesday, she followed that up with more positive talk about the nominee.
"Certainly, when you look at the credentials that Judge Kavanaugh brings to the job, it will be very difficult for anyone to argue that he's not qualified for the job," Collins said. "He's clearly qualified for the job, but there are other issues involving judicial temperament and his... judicial philosophy that also will play into my decision."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will be another key vote for the GOP-led Senate, and has urged "due dilligence" on the nominee even though she believes Kavanaugh "certainly has the qualifications."
Even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gave a hat tip to the nomination. So, given that the GOP lines looks shored up, all eyes are on red state Democrats. I would bet that Sens. Heitkamp (D-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are the GOP’s best bets for crossover votes. Let’s see what happens. Both Murkowski and Collins voted to confirm Kavanaugh's circuit court nomination.