The Kavanaugh debacle helped seal Democratic victory in 2018 — here's why 2020 will be even worse

The Kavanaugh debacle helped seal Democratic victory in 2018 — here's why 2020 will be even worse
President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Tuesday, March 10, 2020, upon their arrival to the U.S. Capitol for a Senate Republican policy lunch. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Republicans are rushing to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the high court because they know they’re going to lose this November. If they were on track to victory, or if the politics of a Supreme Court opening favored them, they would wait. But neither is the case, and their actions betray their rank fear.


Not that they don’t have reason to fear. In 2018, they thought the contentious confirmation hearings over Brett Kavanaugh would bail them out during the midterm elections. Instead, as Civiqs polling at the time shows, it sealed their defeat.

Here’s the generic congressional ballot chart for the 12 months leading into the 2018 midterm elections.

(Civiqs)

At the time of the Kavanaugh confirmation, Democrats had a 48-43 advantage in the generic congressional ballot. On Election Day, Civiqs had the race at 50-44. When the ballots were counted and the “unsure” made their decision, Democrats had notched a 53.4 to 44.8 victory. In other words, Democrats gained 5.4 points to the GOP’s 1.8 points.

But here’s where it gets even more explicit: Among women, Democrats had a 54-37 advantage the day Kavanaugh was confirmed. That stretched out to 57-37 by Election Day. Exit polls had Democrats winning women 59-40.

And then there’s independent college-educated women, precisely the demographic that has abandoned the GOP wholesale and delivered 38 suburban House seats to the Democrats in 2018. Check them out:

(Civiqs)

The day that Republicans confirmed Kavanaugh, these college-educated independent women preferred Democrats by a 51-32 margin. On Election Day, they had shifted a net nine points, to 58-30.

For perhaps the first time in modern history, the politics of a Supreme Court battle ended up favoring Democrats, as liberals finally realized the importance of the high court when making their voting decisions. And clearly, we haven’t forgotten. At the time of Friday’s soul-crushing news, the ActBlue tracker was at $6,438,559,113. As I write this Monday night, it’s $163 million bigger, and growing at a rate of over $1,000 per second, so … by Tuesday morning when you read this, it could very well be at … I’m not even going to venture the math. It’ll be a lot. And for context … well, no other time period has even come close to this kind of outpouring.

And Republicans? That NY Times reporter who tweeted the above noted that “Republicans haven't reported any commensurate surge. But but but.They expect that could change once Trump names his nominee later this week.” Republicans are already getting crushed in the money race.

Of course, longtime readers of mine will know that I don’t believe money is everything in elections. Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump by $230 million. There is more to a campaign than TV advertising or any other kind of spending. There’s a point of diminishing returns—if the candidate doesn’t have the traction, no amount of money can save him or her.

But that aside, this flood of money signals something that Republicans should fear more than anything else—Democratic excitement. If we’re fired up, roaring to get to the polls, and doing everything possible to get everyone else to the polls, there’s little Republicans can do to stop a Blue Wave.

There are more of us than there are of them. That’s why they’ve worked so hard to suppress us. If they can’t keep our people from voting, if we’ll walk over shards of broken glass dipped in acid and lit afire, then all those polls showing Democratic victories will be undercounting our potential margins. Because ultimately, polling assumes the same shitty turnout that has bedeviled us for decades. And the potent mix of Donald Trump plus that Supreme Court seat are dramatically upending the turnout math.

Will we stop Republican efforts to jam a replacement in before the election? Probably not. We’ll try like hell to stop it, but our options are limited. So the next best thing is to win the biggest Senate majority possible, blow Trump out of the water by a margin so large and wide that it’s outside the margin of his shenanigans, and then we demand that Democrats expand the courts next year. And I mean courts, plural. The Supreme Court to 13, while doubling the size of the understaffed district and appellate courts.

And that’s just the beginning of necessary reforms to rebalance American democracy so that it represents the people, and not the dwindling share of white rural men using unearned structural advantages to maintain their hold on power that no longer is their exclusive domain.

And it all starts by riding every bit of anger over RGB’s seat, and that of Obama’s stolen seat, to utterly wipe out the GOP electorally in 42 days—and every single voting day before that. (In some places, like Florida and North Carolina, voting has already begun!)

Now let’s do it!

(Note, in 2018, Civiqs had Democrats with a 50-44 advantage in the generic congressional ballot, a six-point lead. When the ballots were counted, Democrats won the national generic House vote by 8.6 points. Civiqs is tracking the generic congressional ballot again, and as of today, it has Democrats winning 52-43, or nine points. I’m telling you all, this year can be even bigger than 2018 was, and it depends on every single one of you to get out the vote.)

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