“The result of the [Kavanaugh] hearings, at least in the short run, is the Republican base was awakened,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, speaking on NPR.
According to a poll this week from NPR and Marist, Republican voter enthusiasm jumped by 8 points between July and October. Several other polls have shown a similar rise in the number of GOP voters who say the November elections are “very important.”
Voter enthusiasm translates almost directly into voter turnout. And It’s hard to overestimate how important turnout is to Republicans this year.
For most of the summer and fall, GOP strategists have been worried that a crucial group of Trump supporters would stay home on Election Day, lulled into complacency by the strong economy and by the president’s frequent predictions that there would be a “red wave” of Republican victories in November.
In reality, historical trends and available polling all overwhelming indicate that the opposite is true, and that there will be a “blue wave” of Democratic wins, fueled by intense voter enthusiasm and a deep dislike for Trump, that will cost Republicans the House majority.
But the Kavanaugh fight may have helped Republicans close this so-called enthusiasm gap.
In red states with close Senate races, the Kavanaugh bump already appears to be having an impact. Polls of voters this week in North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas all showed Republican Senate candidates making significant gains.
This was clearly not lost on Trump, who told attendees at a rally Friday night in Ohio that Democrats attempted to “destroy” Kavanaugh.
As a result of the Supreme Court fight, “We’re winning [Senate seats] in states we weren’t even going to contest. We’re beating people that we weren’t even going to contest,” Trump said.
There are not, in fact, any Senate seats that Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter) were not planning to contest. Still, Trump clearly appeared to be referring to races like those in North Dakota and Tennessee, which have swung right in the wake of the Kavanaugh fight.
“People realize how important the Supreme Court is,” Trump said.