Democrats in red states facing re-election in November face a “nightmare” over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — ultimately coming up against “a lose-lose situation,” pollster Doug Schoen said Wednesday.
“Here is the tough decision those red state Democrats have to make,” Schoen said in an opinion column for Fox News. “Either go along with the rest of the Democratic Party to oppose the nominee and risk losing their own upcoming election, or support Kavanaugh and leave the Democrats short of the votes they may need.
“Kavanaugh is perceived by many analysts to be less staunchly conservative than other judges on President [Donald] Trump’s short list,” he added.
“Yet, on issues such as gun control and religious liberty, Kavanaugh would very likely side with the more conservative justices on the court.
“This dichotomy,” Schoen continued, “is what leaves Democrats running for reelection in red states with the tough choice.”
The Democratic pollster noted that the party already is “fractured and in a state of chaos” — and “Democratic senators aren’t necessarily bound by one single ideology.
“For this reason, I expect many of them to vote in favor of the Republican nominee,” he concluded.
“Now, more than ever, Democrats must recognize that although we are in an age of political polarization, voting across party lines might actually benefit the party itself.”
Kavanaugh, 53, the federal appellate court judge whom Trump nominated Monday to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, has said he would honor Supreme Court precedent on various issues, including abortion.
This could provide some red-state Democrats with some “hope” that he will back such issues as gay rights and “other liberal causes,” Schoen said.
Further, those Democrats backing him could garner some Republican votes in their states in the upcoming election, he argued.
Those Democrats, however, could face attack from their colleagues “from deep blue states” — causing “an even greater divide within the Democratic party.”
And, if the party opposes any Trump nominee, Democrats “run the risk of losing seats and perhaps even the chance of regaining a majority,” Schoen said.
He encouraged three red-state Democrats up for re-election in November who backed Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination — Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — “to once again vote across the aisle for their own sake to keep their Senate seats.
“Voting against Kavanaugh could very well give their Republican challengers the support they need to vote them out of office,” he said.
Schoen noted that Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill opposed Gorsuch and her approval rating had dropped “in a state that President Trump won by a 20-point margin.
“As a Democrat running for reelection in a solid red state, McCaskill does not have the same freedom to oppose Kavanaugh with an election only months away,” the pollster noted.
Still, this is the reality on Kavanaugh, according to Schoen: “Even if every Democrat votes against Kavanaugh, he will still be confirmed if no Republican votes against him.
“Democratic votes are more symbolic than necessary.”
Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate.
“Red-state Democrats should vote to confirm Kavanaugh if they hope to stay in office,” Schoen said. “This is the only way Democrats maintain the ability to take back Congress.”
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