Are the Democrats or the Republicans getting a post-Kavanaugh bounce?
It’s still early, but Democrats have reason to be hopeful
Both parties predicted at the end of the battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court that the brutal fight would benefit them. As of right now, it seems like the Republican expectations are falling flat.
Consider the recent polling. The vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination was held October 6, although it became clear he was going to win on October 5. As a result, the key is to look at polls conducted after the 5th. Since then, Yougov ran a poll that gave the Democrats an 8 point advantage, while Morning Consult gave them a 13 point advantage, and the well-respected CNN/SSRS poll run almost entirely after Kavanaugh’s nomination favors the Democrats by 12 points. Indeed, polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight currently has the Democrats up by 8.2 points overall on the national generic ballot.
Republicans have argued that anger among their party faithful over the way Kavanaugh was treated would motivate them to go to the polls. This point is critical since midterm elections are won by the party who shows up to vote. Up until now, there has been little doubt that the Democrats are motivated, and Republicans demoralized. Even more than the generic ballot this level of enthusiasm makes a difference in midterms. Did anger over Kavanaugh change this dynamic?
I have long argued that this Republican anger would quickly dissipate, quickly replaced by relief and satisfaction, both of which are poor motivators for voter turnout. On the other hand, the Republican success in forcing Kavanaugh’s nomination through would only increase the fury of Democrats, and anger is the best motivation to vote.
During the confirmation battle, it did indeed seem that Republican voter enthusiasm had increased. A ten-point enthusiasm advantage benefiting Democrats in July declined to a two-point advantage at the height of the battle — a statistical dead heat. This change was largely due to an increase in Republican motivation, not due to any decline in Democratic intentions.
A new poll by Politico shows that the Democratic enthusiasm advantage is once again nearing double-digits at nine points. It’s just one poll, and it’s still early, but it’s encouraging.
I have to admit that when I saw evidence of surging Republican enthusiasm, I was worried. What helped calm me was confidence in the fact that this enthusiasm would be short-lived, but until I saw some evidence in the polling data to support my theory, I always had certain amount of doubt. Fortunately, the updated data seems positive, giving me some relief.
Unfortunately, we will not know for sure the result until after the votes are counted. Until then, we must make sure we and everybody we know votes. It seems that voters supporting Democrats are the majority. The problem is that too many of us just don’t show up on election day.
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