Will Kavanaugh be Confirmed?
Will Kavanaugh be Confirmed?
It's the question of the week. Maybe of 2018.
As things stand, a cloture vote is scheduled for October 5th (tomorrow) in the Senate.
You've heard all about the allegations. You've heard the counter allegations. You've read our overview of the subject.
So we're not going to look at that stuff. We're going to focus on the one question:
Will Kavanaugh be confirmed?
The Prevailing Odds
First, we'll look a the wisdom of the crowd.
PredictIt is putting the market somewhere in the realm of 80% to confirm, up from a low 60%.
We're arriving at this by looking at the bundled "49 or less votes" option.
There's also a 60+ option that's . . . not really relevant.
From 50 through 59, they're broken out into sequential integers. Up past 55, we don't really care about, but 50-54 are bouncing all over the place, which means the general consensus is . . . nobody knows.
The reason they're bouncing comes down the to the Red State Democrats, the RSDs. Oddly, with one possible exception, they only come into play if the Republicans don't need their votes . . . which means the RSDs have nothing to lose, and quite possibly something to gain.
Sen. Manchin's (D-WV) lead over his opponent Patrick Morrisey is 27 points in a new poll if he votes to confirm Kavanaugh and . . . 2 if he doesn't. Which is why he's our one possible odd man out.
So there's a swirling question of how many RSDs will jump on the bandwagon if Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed anyway.
Sen. Heitkamp (D-ND) has stated she will vote no. This is a bold decision on her part, given that 60% of voters in her state say she should confirm him and she's tied with or trailing her opponent Cramer. We'll see if she sticks to her guns.
There are, essentially, five senators whose votes aren't locked in, and the doubt is all arising from how they'll vote.
As of Friday afternoon, Flake (R-AZ) and Collins (R-ME) are YES votes, Murkowski (R-AZ) and Heitkamp (D-ND) are NO.
The Whole Other Side of This
So there are enough Republicans to send this through on their own. So why is there any doubt about how they'll vote? If they have chosen to believe Kavanaugh's testimony over Ford's. Given their media posturing today, they either feel that way, or that they have political cover to say they do.
I don't want to get into that too far, because it's difficult in the best of circumstances to separate someone's real motivations from their stated reasons. When we factor in that we're only getting soundbites, most the people involved are very good at lying about what they do or don't believe, and our own biases--I'm personally pretty sure that most Democrat and Republican Senators would shove their favorite grandchild into a woodchipper to win an election, and half of them would do it for the fun it--there's not much point in trying to weasel out motivations.
However, it's pretty easy, and usually about as accurate, to explore the Machiavellian aspects of it.
So, yes, if it were just down to a party-line vote, Republicans would have this locked up.
Of course, they may not want to. For several reasons. And, whatever his faults, Sen. McConnell (R-KY) plays politics like chess.
The Kavanaugh hearing has appeared (it's early days yet) to reduce the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans. That's big. We haven't seen how it's settled out yet, but you can bet the powers that be in both parties are keeping an eye on it.
As we've discussed elsewhere the Republicans are in good position to keep the Senate, and anything that improves their base's turnout will only improve that position.
As long as they keep the Senate, Republicans have control over the entire Supreme Court nomination. Kavanaugh is, almost certainly, expendable in an absolute sense. If they have to sacrifice him to potentially salvage the House, it's a more than fair trade in pure political terms.
If losing their nominee to someone their base perceives as having been unfairly subjected to a smear campaign gets them out, so be it.
Pushing him through might do the exact opposite.
A Better Nominee
Republicans will almost certainly be able to nominate another candidate. In all likelihood Valerie Jarrett. How's that for an olive branch to women angry about Kavanaugh?
It wouldn't undo the past month, but it would undercut the obvious election messaging from the Democrats.
At this point, there's a strong argument that Kavanaugh is too damaged to do his job properly, not only for the allegations against him, but for his demeanor during the hearing regarding the Ford allegation.
So there are multiple potential short and long-term gains to failing to confirm Kavanaugh. The fastest and most dramatic way to do so would be to hold a vote, fail to exceed 49 votes, and immediately move on to the next nominee.
You can bet that nominee is already set to go.
It's only my personal opinion that it would be a woman . . . but it would be.
What's your guess?
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So . . . What Then?
Will Republicans decide Kavanaugh's an albatross? Or will they stand by him? Will endangered Democrats fall on the side of principle or politics?
The best anyone can give is an educated guess.
The Senate voted to close the debate on the nominee this morning, 51-49. The current stated votes put the tally at 50-46, by my count.
This entire process is on a knife's edge.
In the Republican's place, I wouldn't confirm him. Not only is he a liability and damaged goods, but there are clear electoral gains to be had from letting his nomination fail. Moreover, by having one of their retiring members vote NO, and dropping the total below 49, they don't even have to worry about backlash from their base.
But that's my take on things.
My gut instinct, general consensus, and the odds are all in favor of Kavanaugh being confirmed tomorrow.