With Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court, the most divisive incident of this most divisive presidency may have been settled, but the culture wars rumble on. The ramifications – whether they be short or long-term, electoral, political, legal or cultural – could be profound.
Supreme Court fight has energised Republicans
The campaign to stop Kavanaugh amid a slew of allegations, his own testimony and that of accuser Christine Blasey Ford, has for once overshadowed Trump in the publicity stakes. The issue has energised millions in the run-up to what have been widely billed as the most important mid-terms ever and the effect remains far from clear.
I’ve been confidently tipping the Democrats to win the House of Representatives all year, at an average around 1.81, particularly for two reasons. The Left or more accurately anti-Trump voters, have never been this energised. Whether special elections, primary turnout or social media activism, everything points to a huge jump in turnout on their side.
Differential turnout is of profound importance in all elections, particularly mid-term when generally around 40% overall. It has been a historic weakness for Democrats and parties of the Left in general. With greater engagement and registration, they have the potential to improve vastly on 2014 – the last time these races were run – and to blindside polling models.
Then there are the trends since Trump’s election. A core reason for Clinton’s defeat in 2016 was performing worse than expected amongst white suburban women. Since Trump’s election, the swing that failed to previously materialise has done so across a swathe of smaller races, and shown up in polls. If sustained, they will flip numerous suburban districts and take the House.
Recent events, however, may throw a spanner in the works. The latest NBC/Marist poll shows the Democrat lead in the generic ballot halved over a month. Among suburban women, their lead fell from 35% to 14% in the final three weeks of September. ‘NeverTrump Conservatives’, who have rarely found common cause with the GOP since 2015, came home.