This article by Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur does a good job summing up the self-created dilemma Republicans find themselves in five weeks before Election Day:
The growing furor over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination has Republicans trapped between their conservative base and the female voters who’ll be pivotal to deciding control of Congress in November.
President Donald Trump and his conservative allies are rallying behind Kavanaugh, calling allegations of sexual misconduct brought by two women a Democratic smear campaign intent on blocking his confirmation to the high court. But they’re doing so amid a widening gender gap that has women increasingly breaking toward Democrats six weeks before the midterm elections.
“The Republicans are in a pickle because the base — Christian right and Federalist Society types — are demanding this seat, but the party is losing support with the critical suburban females who want to hear Dr. Ford out,” said Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor and chief executive officer of the oil drilling-services company Canary, LLC. He was referring to Christine Blasey Ford, a California college professor, who alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they both were in high school.
Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seem hell-bent on pressing forward with the nomination, having scheduled a committee vote for Friday, one day after the hearing with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. There are no indications as of this writing on Wednesday morning that Kavanaugh himself intends to withdraw, or of the White House intending to do so. The key will be reaction to the hearing on Thursday.
If Kavanaugh stumbles during his testimony or Ford manages to convince other senators (Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Corker) of the validity of her allegations, the nomination is sunk. It would be doubtful that McConnell would go through with a full vote on the Kavanaugh nomination if the math isn’t there, lest he risk another embarrassment like John McCain’s dramatic thumbs down vote which torpedoed health care repeal.
If Kavanaugh withdraws or fails to get a majority of the vote in the Senate, the repercussions on Senate Republicans could be serious – depressed base voter turnout in a year they had a favorable map could mean that endangered Democrats in Indiana or North Dakota survive, while traditionally Republican-held seats in Arizona, Tennessee and Texas could be flipped by the Democrats. If the Republicans lose control of the Senate, they lose the ability to confirm President Trump’s executive branch and judicial nominees for the final two years of his first term.
Given this dynamic, Republicans have no choice but to go all-in on Kavanaugh, even though he has the worst poll numbers of any Supreme Court nominee in history and the sexual assault allegations will turn off female voters. Unless more accusers come forward, the hearing on Thursday will be the determining factor in whether Kavanaugh gets on the Supreme Court or not.