So polarized is our culture that I give Democrats no credit for Working Across the Aisle, not when doing so eviscerates Social Security/Medicare, turns voting rights into a noble idea in a textbook, and turns the First Amendment into a rapier to bury into the hearts of gay and lesbian citizens. In 2016, Donald Trump or more likely his strategists had a plan: increase turnout in a shrinking demographic, compensating with enthusiasm what it will lose in lives. Democrats must focus on their base too, but it’s an expanding one. In 2028 a Democrat seeking office won’t convert a Republican voter by supporting the gutting of reproductive rights; what the Democrat does is alienate other Democratic voters.
But the minds of party solons are not easily changed. In these minds it’s still 1988 and every Democrat is Mike Dukakis. While Chuck Todd delivers the conventional wisdom about Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana “boxed in” as Democratic senators in Trump states, voters have moved on. The essential Jane Mayer reports from the ground:
Nan Aron, the president of Alliance for Justice, a progressive group, who was also involved in the Thomas confirmation fight, agrees. “The conventional wisdom is that a vote against the nominee will hurt Democrats, but the reality that we’ve seen in the past is that it’s sometimes the right vote for Democrats politically. Votes for Thomas deflated the Democratic vote” afterward in some Senate races. As for this year, she says, “Look—Democrats in red states need the progressive base. You don’t need them staying home.”
On Saturday, two progressive groups—Demand Justice, a new organization focussed on judicial issues, and the Center for American Progress—planned to release a poll, conducted in the battleground states of Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia, that seeks to convey a similar message to vulnerable Democratic senators.
According to the poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates, Democratic senators may actually be better off politically, even in states that went overwhelmingly to Trump in 2016, if they cast votes against Kavanaugh. The polling data, which was gathered between June 30th and July 5th from about twelve hundred voters in those four states, are, of course, self-serving. But it makes the case that, if Democratic senators in conservative states frame their opposition to Kavanaugh clearly as a matter of conscience, based on one of three possible arguments, a majority of voters will likely accept and support the decision.
The thing is, Tester is doing okay. So is Joe Manchin. Among Democrats oly Manchin, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota voted for the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch last year; Tester, my boy Bill Nelson, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, one of the other endangered Democratic senatorial candidates, voted no. Kavanaugh is as terrible if not worse than Gorsuch. If Nelson has a brains in that ancient skull, he’ll understand how a vote for a future member of this Fuller-era Supreme Court risks the lives of his Floridians. Hoping that the senior in Apalachicola may think, “Gee, isn’t Bill Nelson independent? Might as well vote for him” instead of, “Gee, isn’t Bill Nelson independent? Gonna vote for Rick Scott anyway” is like believing in tax cuts that pay for themselves.