One year later, Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle continues to illustrate the divide between the far left and much of the rest of the country, a gulf worsened by the media, and invisible to elite Democrats. On Sunday, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway caught the New York Times omitting the highly relevant detail that his purported victim reportedly does not remember a new Kavanaugh allegation attributed to her. No matter, by Monday, every major 2020 candidate except Joe Biden had called for the justice’s impeachment.
At a Winning for Women lunch earlier this month, I asked Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel whether the party was still feeling the effects of Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle. Her answer—a resounding yes—takes on new relevance now that Democrats are leaning into an impeachment fight over the Times piece.
Calling the confirmation a “pivotal moment for [the GOP],” McDaniel said it “brought people back to the Republican Party” and spurred lost donors to send checks. Here’s what McDaniel told me on Sept. 4:
Oh, I think Kavanaugh brought people back to the Republican Party, I really do. I know it did. It’s the first time in my time as chair where I had people call and say ‘I’m going to join you today. And I haven’t been taking your calls for two years and I’m writing you a check right now.’
Because they felt like it was such an overreach, that it was character assassination, that this was a good, honest, decent guy who was being just railroaded. And it again highlighted the extreme positioning of the Democrat Party, that they will do anything at all costs to tear somebody down. To make sure he doesn’t get on the Supreme Court.
And I think it was a pivotal moment for us. And I think it’s part of the reason why we expanded our seats in the Senate.
As Hemingway and others have noted, evidence shows Democrats lost Senate seats in swing states in part because their party’s conduct during the Kavanaugh hearings galvanized the Republican base. Having covered a couple of those races, the effects of the hearing in swing states like Missouri was surprisingly powerful. Don’t take it from me, take it from Claire McCaskill. Yet Democrats, flailing for a strategy to recapture support in the Midwest, are still spoiling for a fight over Kavanaugh.
For 2020 candidates, there’s at least some logical motivation for the renewed impeachment calls: the base loves it. And Democrats do, of course, legitimately want Kavanaugh off the court.
Further, as The New York Times demonstrated again this weekend, their opposition efforts will be aided by the media, which made up its mind about the justice more than a year ago. (Even so, whether the public would actually support an impeachment effort now or in the future is a very different question than whether it supported his confirmation last year.)
But if the general election candidate is not Biden, that eventual nominee’s calls to impeach Kavanaugh will be raised in swing states—and not to his or her benefit. The party still doesn’t seem to understand that.