Hours after the U.S. Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday, President Donald Trump implored his supporters to turn out in large numbers for the November mid-term elections, both to punish Democrats for their opposition to Kavanaugh, and to ensure that Republicans keep control of both the U.S. House and Senate.
“We’ll have a chance in just four weeks to render your verdict on the Democrats’ conduct at the ballot box,” the President said to loud cheers at a campaign rally in Topeka, Kansas.
“On November 6, you will have the chance to stop the radical Democrats, and that’s what they’ve become,” Mr. Trump said.
“The radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob,” the President added, giving the back of the hand to hundreds of protesters who turned up outside the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court buildings as Kavanaugh was first confirmed by the Senate, and then sworn in by the Chief Justice.
On Capitol Hill, GOP leaders said the rash of sexual misconduct allegations which suddenly surfaced against Kavanaugh had actually helped rally Republican Senators and voters behind the judge, as they also quickly tried to capitalize on the Kavanaugh fight for the November elections.
“We finally discovered the one thing that would fire up the Republican base,” said a smiling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “The other side did it,” he said, referring to the Democrats.
Other Republicans echoed those sentiments, as GOP lawmakers like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) thanked the President, “for sticking with Justice Kavanaugh through all the lies and in the face of crazed mobs.”
The word ‘mob’ was repeated by a number of Republicans from the President on down on Saturday, as GOP leaders tried to make the case that Democrats had crossed the line by embracing what they said was a series of uncorroborated claims against Kavanaugh.
“Americans outside the beltway don’t take kindly to the Washington smear machine, and a paid mob trying to prevent Senators from doing the will of their constituents,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Polls in recent days have shown an uptick in the President’s approval rating, raising questions about whether this fight over Kavanaugh represents a temporary boost for the GOP, or a more long-lasting one for November.
“It may be that one side turns out at furious rates as a result of a vote,” said GOP pollster Patrick Ruffini, who cited the fight over the Obama health law as one example.
But Ruffini says he still believes the larger issue for voters is not Kavanaugh, or any other issue.
“The dominant factor in this election remains Donald Trump,” Ruffini said on Twitter Saturday afternoon.
For Democrats, the unanswered question right now is did this extended fight – highlighted by salacious accusations against Kavanaugh – energize Republicans, or is this still an election landscape which tilts away from the GOP, as Democrats keep reporting large fundraising numbers.
At this point, the predictions have a very wide spread in both the House and Senate – elections expert Harry Enten says it could be anything from Democrats having a maximum of 256 seats in the House to a minimum of 204.
Election Day is four weeks from Tuesday. The experts think it is advantage Democrats right now – but many thought that two years ago at this time as well.