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What is the Kavanaugh Midterm Effect?

             10/4/2018

Brett Kavanaugh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The latest accusations and subsequent political fallout surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh may influence voters in the 2018 Midterm elections, which are fast approaching in November. There still remains a stark partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans as to both Kavanaugh’s guilt or innocence and whether or not he should be nominated to the Supreme Court, but the effects on current polls have not yet seen any meaningful change. Until either changes are reflected in the polls or the midterms happen, there is only speculation on its effects.

As of last weekend, the latest poll by Politico indicates slightly more people are against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, with about 40 percent against and 37 percent for. About 23 percent are still undecided, considering the severe lack of corroborating details, evidence and witness testimony from the judge’s accusers. The primary evidence put forth by the Democrats of his guilt is Kavanaugh’s angry reaction to the situation and stories of him drinking in high school, but without specific times, dates, or police reports, which some point out, can be sometimes scarce in crimes particularly committed by teenagers who were themselves misbehaving, such as drinking underage.

On the left, the Kavanaugh hearings and likely confirmation will energize activists within the women’s rights and MeToo movement, who already consider it a foregone conclusion that Kavanaugh is guilty.

On the right, Democrat Diane Feinstein’s delayed revelation of the accusation until right before the confirmation vote will energize disdain for the left, and what they believe to be their willingness to use sexual misconduct accusations as conveniently-timed political tools. It has already been the right’s long-time criticism of the MeToo movement that public, spurious accusations of sexual misconduct will be instantly believed regardless of their verifiability, and result in the destruction of many innocent men’s careers and reputations.

Both of these conclusions are supported by the fact that, over time, both the support and disapproval of Kavanaugh have simultaneously increased, and have done so along party lines. And the effect so far appears to have canceled each other out, leaving the current midterm race at the status quo, with Democrats at a modest advantage. FiveThirtyEight gives the Republicans a “5 in 7” chance to retain the Senate, with the most likely outcome being no seats lost or gained, but gives the Democrats a much more favorable “7 in 9” outlook for the House of Representatives. Although, some would argue that the Democrats were already ad maximum capacity in terms of enthusiasm prior to this event.

The opinion polls for a generic congressional ballot have remained relatively consistent for the past few months, with Democrats holding a 7.4 percent advantage. It has been the norm in recent history for the party opposite of the president to control Congress.

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