The announcement that GOP leaders agreed to allow a “supplemental investigation” to be opened, with a deadline of Oct. 5, was a blow to Kavanaugh supporters who felt his train had picked up steam yet again. These individuals must remember that the nominee, while seated before the panel on Thursday, said he would gladly cooperate. He is fiercely confident of his innocence. While the weeklong extension added onto an already tumultuous season of political partisanship seems unbearable for the country, it appears that this may help lay to rest any doubts that swing voters on either side might have. At least, that is the hope.
As the story continues to unfold in D.C. another, more immediate effect is taking place: the galvanization of Republican voters ahead of midterm elections.
Those who viewed the daylong hearings on Sept. 27 were likely moved by the emotional testimonies of both parties, and rightly so. But the fair and courteous treatment afforded Christine Blasey Ford was almost nowhere to be found for the accused Kavanaugh. Democrats on the committee like Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Kamala Harris of California were quick to berate, ridicule, and mock the man seated before them. Durbin would not let up until Kavanaugh addressed whether he’d allow an FBI investigation. Whitehouse grilled him on crucial matters like teenage jokes. Blumenthal asked at the very end of his five-minute turn, “Do you believe Anita Hill?” (His time had already expired, so Blumenthal was cut off and Kavanaugh never answered the question).
The displays may have been enjoyable opportunities for these politicians to gather soundbites, but their ripple effect is certain to be more disastrous for the Democrats than expected. If the additional hearing served a purpose for the GOP, it was to awaken a sleeping giant.
Historically, midterm elections have lower voter turnout than presidential elections. A presidential election certainly draws national numbers, but midterms? They aren’t seen as important as choosing the commander in chief. However, the current political climate could mean November’s results trend in the Republican direction. While it’s not possible to fully connect any shift to the current battle for the next Supreme Court justice, it’s safe to say a fire has been lit under many on the Right side of the aisle.
Should this phenomenon occur, it will suggest that the divided GOP, made up of Trump fanatics and reluctant, even disgruntled, Republican voters are actually able to unite behind a common goal of defeating the enemy. After the Democrats’ display in the chambers of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it’s safe to conclude that the majority party’s opponents don’t care about anything but partisan politics. An attack on the upstanding, authentic individual known as Brett Kavanaugh is an attack on the entirety of the GOP. While maligning the brash President Trump may be looked at as one thing, going after the long-standing integrity of an experienced, high-profile jurist is quite another.
Of course, this motivation to battle on election day could likely increase if further delays are suggested or if the nominee is not confirmed in the end. At that time, there is sure to be an even greater desire to decimate the Democrats by way of voting.