Call it the Kavanaugh Effect — but according to a new poll, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp are facing a bit of a voter backlash over their reluctance to support Supreme Court judicial nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Fifty-six percent of North Dakota voters would like to see Kavanaugh confirmed; only 26 percent say they oppose.
Hear that, Heitkamp?
And over on the West Virginia front, where Manchin has enjoyed playing the role of moderate Democrat for some time, 58 percent want Kavanaugh confirmed.
The poll came courtesy of Judicial Crisis Network — a conservative political outlet founded, in part, to sway court picks Republicans’ way. The left, as a quick sidenote, has George Soros and the upstart Demand Justice, a nonprofit that just launched this year to halt President Donald Trump’s judicial picks — currently, Kavanaugh — and that receives funding, indirectly and in part, from the Open Society Policy Center.
But here’s the thing with JCN’s poll: The recent numbers are in line with how the states voted in the 2016 presidential election.
Nearly 69 percent of West Virginians voted for Trump, compared to almost 27 percent for Hillary Clinton, a couple years ago.
And 63 percent of North Dakota voters picked Trump, compared to 27 percent who chose Clinton, in 2016.
Heitkamp, already vulnerable, has been running a re-election race that paints her as a moderate and as NPR wrote, “Her future may depend on how closely she can align herself with President Trump without angering members of her own party.”
Manchin, meanwhile, is in a tight race against Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, according to a recent 1892 Polling survey. By the numbers?
“Morrisey narrowly leads Manchin among independent voters by 4 points, 41 to 37 percent,” The Hill wrote. “But, nearly a quarter — 22 percent — of independent voters remain undecided.”
Trump’s approval with West Virginia voters is still solidly in the yay column, too. That same poll found 57 percent of state voters currently see Trump in a positive light — a statistic that should serve as a warning light to Manchin.
But will it? The anti-Kavanaugh protesters are out in full force. They’ve been busy storming Manchin’s congressional office; nine were just arrested at his Charleston headquarters. Heitkamp, meanwhile, has expressed support for Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s accuser.
But the polls speak volumes — and of course, this is partly why Democrats want to delay, delay, delay on the Kavanaugh vote. A delay gives Democratic senators facing tight re-election races some cover by allowing them to talk out of both sides of their mouths, straddle the lines, sit on the fence, and so forth. Anything to keep from making a choice on Kavanaugh that could bring accountability, right?
It’d be nice if these two, Manchin and Heitkamp, could just make a decision based on right versus wrong, though — based on principle, not party and partisan pressure. Truth is, there is nothing by way of evidence that’s emerged to support Ford’s accusations against Kavanaugh.
And to borrow from another widely watched, widely reported matter of justice-gone-circus show: If it don’t fit, you must acquit.
Manchin and Heitkamp, if they want to keep their Senate seats, would do well to remember the voters and choose wisely whom they represent — the Democratic Party or the people.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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