Republicans are afraid that the sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh will hurt them in the upcoming midterm elections. According to the Washington Post, many have expressed fear that the investigation will focus the voters’ attention on a highly-charged issue that will help increase Democratic turnout in November.
Initially Republicans thought that the conservative Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court would increase turnout by grateful GOP voters this fall. That is why they have rushed the process and want to make sure he is confirmed and sitting on the Court before November 6th.
But now they have new fears that more voters, especially independent women, will go to the polls angry about how Republicans are handling the allegations of sexual misconduct. This will only get worse if Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Christine Ford, is forced to face tough questioning from Republican senators during upcoming public hearings.
“It’s not just about Kavanaugh but more about the midterms,” said Rick Hohlt, a Republican strategist.“With more women running for public office than ever before and the majority of them being Democrats, we could have a 1992 situation. This could be another Year of the Woman.”
In 1992 the number of women elected to the House nearly doubled, to 47, and the number of women elected to the Senate tripled, to six. That watershed election took place just one year after Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court despite allegations that he had sexually harassed Anita Hill, in the workplace.
Even before the accusation against Kavanaugh surfaced, polls have shown that women prefer Democratic candidates.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll in late August found that 58 percent of female registered voters intended to cast a ballot for a Democrat for Congress, compared with 45 percent of men. The numbers of women moving into the Democratic column have probably increased since then.
Republican senators want Dr. Ford to show up to be grilled by them on Monday, but through her attorney she has requested that the FBI conduct an investigation first, which appears to be the proper procedure. Republicans want no more delays, and they are making a show of being accommodating to the woman accuser for political reasons.
Since she came forward, Democratic candidates for the House and the Senate have expressed support for Kavanaugh’s accuser.
“I believe she is credible,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “We have to get to the bottom of this.”
Democratic strategists hope that if Republicans mishandle the investigation of Ford’s allegations it will benefit their party in November.
“This is not just Kavanaugh that is on trial. It is the Republican majority that is on trial,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster. “There is certainly a significant danger for Republicans if they are seen as railroading the nomination through at this stage or not providing a real public airing of the facts.”
As of now nothing is certain concerning what steps will take place next. Dr. Ford has not agreed to testify on Monday. But it is certain that this is not a good situation for Republicans, and it will probably hurt them in November.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.