Red wave? Not so fast, Republicans

Stefani Reynolds

Many Republicans believe that the Senate vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will shift the tide of a blue wave and increase Republican enthusiasm as we approach the November midterm elections. There is, however, a stronger chance that Democrats will benefit the most, politically, from the confirmation of a new justice.

Indeed, Democrats will make significant gains among female voters who are deeply troubled with the way that Senate Republicans handled the very serious and very credible allegation of sexual assault made against Justice Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Given this momentum, Democrats not only will consolidate their lead on winning back the House, but the gravity of this confirmation will narrow multiple Senate races as well.

{mosads}To be sure, it has become almost an article of political faith on the right for the last two weeks that the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh would lead to an increase in enthusiasm among Republicans. Indeed, based on idiosyncratic evidence, it would appear that that has happened. However, the Republican momentum we see today is unlikely to be sustained for the entirety of the next month. In fact, it would directly conflict with the more favorable turnout projections we have observed for Democrats for the better part of the past two years.

The more likely way in which voter enthusiasm will move is for Democrats to make even more substantial gains among female voters, as the gender gap in opposition to Kavanaugh expands even further. The most recent Economist/YouGov poll found a margin of 12 points for women favoring a Democratic candidate for Congress and a mere 30 percent trusting Kavanaugh’s account of what happened 36 years ago. Suburban independent and Republican women will surely remain, at the very least, disappointed that the FBI probe into the veracity of Professor Ford’s allegations was so limited in scope and so incomplete in its findings.

Indeed, there is increasing evidence that swing districts are likely to go left next month, and the likely number of seats that the Democrats are poised to gain has steadily increased from the mid to low 20s at this time last year to the mid 30s today. In fact, the Real Clear Politics average for the generic midterm ballot has recently reached its highest level of the Democratic vote, at nearly 50 percent, at since the Republicans in Congress pushed through their unfunded tax cuts last December.

I estimate that in one to two weeks, once Justice Kavanaugh assumes his position on the Supreme Court, we will have a much clearer sense of where the enthusiasm gap, the generic vote, and the likely turnout numbers will actually fall on Election Day. Additionally, we will then understand how the top issues of the economy, health care, immigration, and gun safety come into play for voters across the country, both in relation to and independent from the Kavanaugh controversy.

While a red wave after this Supreme Court confirmation remains unlikely by my estimation, given that Republican elites and insiders are more enthusiastic about Kavanaugh than the average voter, I believe this really needs to be assessed in about 10 days to evaluate the question with certainty. Put another way, at this point, I think there is much more certainty that Republican elites are excited and enthused.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books, including “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”

Tags Congress Democrats Election Government Republicans Supreme Court

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