McCaskill: 'Kavanaugh spectacle' made the difference in midterm loss

Outgoing Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Ex-Sen. McCaskill joins NBC, MSNBC Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D-Mo.) says that the "spectacle" surrounding Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court agrees to review NYC gun restrictions Supreme Court refuses to hear coach's free speech case Kamala Harris staffer mocks O'Reilly for saying Harris 'lost' his vote for president MORE's nomination to the Supreme Court this fall was key to her electoral defeat.

McCaskill explained during an interview Thursday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that GOP voters in her state appeared to be more energized after Kavanaugh's nomination was nearly derailed in the Senate following allegations of sexual misconduct.

"Up until the Kavanaugh stuff, we really weren't seeing that enthusiasm on the Republican side," McCaskill said. "There was a double-digit difference in enthusiasm between the blue side and the red side of the equation in our state until Kavanaugh."

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"And then it popped up," she continued. "And frankly, it popped up even slightly higher than our level of enthusiasm. So what that whole spectacle did was get a whole lot of people off the couch, and it really made the difference."

McCaskill, who has served in the Senate since 2007, was defeated by Missouri Attorney General Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R) by 6 points in last month's midterm elections, helping the GOP expand its Senate majority from 51-49 to 53-47, while Democrats retook the House.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCoast Guard chief: 'Unacceptable' that service members must rely on food pantries, donations amid shutdown Dem lawmaker apologizes after saying it's never been legal in US to force people to work for free Grassley to hold drug pricing hearing MORE previously won Missouri by about 18 points over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPavlich: Mueller’s indictment of the media Poll shows 36 percent support Trump's reelection, 43 percent prefer generic Democrat How the Clinton machine flooded the FBI with Trump-Russia dirt … until agents bit MORE (D) in the 2016 election.

McCaskill told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday that she does not plan to ever return to public office, but that she hopes to help the Democratic Party in other ways.

“I am not going to disappear,” McCaskill said. “I am going to help and I think I can help in terms of the party recruiting good candidates, being prepared. I envision trying to help teach candidates some of the basics."