Democrats may think the Kavanaugh confirmation circus, in which the nominee is facing allegations of sexual assault and misbehavior from his high school and college years, is working in their favor. They certainly seem convinced not only of Brett Kavanaugh’s guilt, but of the impact this will have on midterm elections.
Headlines like this one, in The Atlantic, abound: “Brett Kavanaugh Could Make the Midterms a Landmark Election for Women.”
Left-wing groups are audibly salivating: “[I]t is on fire out there, and women voters in particular are ready to see big, big change,” said Stephanie Schriock, the president of EMILY’s List.
Not so fast. While I’ve said consistently that neither side will be able to claim a clean victory out of this when all is said and done, Democrats seem to underestimate just how significant an impact Kavanaugh could have on midterms — for Republican turnout.
While many of us steeped in the #MeToo movement carefully weigh the accusations against him, deciding to believe the women until evidence proves them not credible, much if not most of America likely sees it differently. They see a decent man, who was investigated six times by the FBI already for other appointments, being tarred and feathered over uncorroborated accusations from decades ago. Sure, that hits male voters hard, but women, too — mothers of sons who don’t want mistakes made as teenagers to define their future — are watching closely.
Republican voters in particular have reason to be incensed, and motivated.
For one, in exaggerating Kavanaugh’s alleged misconduct, liberals have made indefensible and unfair comparisons.
MSNBC’s Katy Tur first compared Kavanaugh to Roger Ailes and Roy Moore, the latter of whom was credibly accused by more than a dozen women of child molestation.
And just yesterday, as the sentencing of convicted serial rapist Bill Cosby was being handed down, she compared him to Kavanaugh.
On CNN, Yodit Tewolde, an attorney, said “During the break I’m scrolling through Twitter and I’m looking at people actually saying and applauding the sentence [of Cosby] and then in the same breath wanting to defend Kavanaugh,” calling that “disturbing” and “insane.”
But to anyone capable of rational thought, putting these two men in the same category is what is disturbing and insane.
Voters also notice a very obvious double standard playing out concurrent to Kavanaugh: The multiple accusations of domestic violence against Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison. While he runs to be Minnesota’s attorney general, the state’s top law enforcer, none of his Democratic colleagues have demanded his ouster. None are demanding the FBI investigate him. In fact, Democrats are quite content to allow the Democratic National Committee, where Ellison serves as deputy chair, to handle the investigation internally.
Many in the media might not have noticed this clear hypocrisy, but average Americans sure do.
Finally, Republicans are having flashbacks to 2012, and seeing shades of Mitt Romney. In the midst of that presidential campaign he was eviscerated by Democrats and the press, many will admit today unfairly, not just over his politics but his character.
As a spokesperson for the Judicial Crisis Network said of the Kavanaugh attacks, “We are not going to allow a last-minute smear campaign (to) destroy a good and decent man who has an unblemished personal record.”
All of this, to be sure, will help drive Republican turnout. But it could also drive independents who think that weaponizing #MeToo for political gain is craven, who believe due process is important, who believe there shouldn’t be different standards based on party affiliation.
Democrats may think they’ve won this battle with Kavanaugh, but he could turn out to be the reason they lose the war.
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