As the Nov. 6 midterm elections draw nearer, both sides of the aisle turn to the impending vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation for the U.S. Supreme Court. While the Senate moves closer to Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote, both Democrats and Republicans have expressed concern over the impact of Kavanaugh’s alleged assault of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, following the hearing held on Sept. 27 and the ongoing FBI investigation of the case.
Currently, the Republican party holds the majority of seats in both the House of Representatives (240 out of 435) and the Senate (51 out of 100). Election forecasts from Time, FiveThirtyEight and The Economist predict that Republicans will likely maintain a majority in the Senate, but may lose the majority in the House. Voters from both parties, however, have been left to ponder the impact of last week’s events on the upcoming elections.
“I do think it has drawn a lot of new eyes to both the midterms and politics as a whole and will result in increased voter turnout,” junior Colton Hunter said.
Hunter, president of the Harding Young Democrats, said he had already been planning to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, but has seen a recent drive in his fellow Democrats to visit the polls.
“Public opinion since the hearing has been incredibly divisive,” Hunter said. “It is my opinion that Kavanaugh’s temperament and way of carrying himself during the hearing have caused him to lose a large number of GOP supporters.”
Hunter said he believes Kavanaugh’s entitled, reactive behavior during the trial caused a shift in public opinion. The issue, he added, is no longer a partisan issue, but a gender equality and sexual assault issue.
“This was more than just the next chapter in some movement,” Hunter said. “This was an opportunity for sexual assault victims to have their story told and to gain some measure of justice.”
Freshman Madison Beery, secretary of HUbrave, a sexual assault awareness and advocacy organization on campus, agreed with Hunter’s belief that Kavanaugh’s potential confirmation has raised national attention regarding sexual assault. For Beery, watching the hearing was accompanied by a whirlwind of emotions. She said she initially felt obligated to believe Blasey Ford, but was torn by the end of the hearing.
“I was just really sad, and my heart hurt because I didn’t know what to believe at that point,” Beery said.
Beery said she believes the issue has spiraled to a point of no return. Regardless of who may or may not have told the truth, Beery said she does not believe Kavanaugh will be able to be an unbiased member of the Supreme Court. If a case involving sexual assault or harassment were to appear in the Supreme Court, Beery fears Kavanaugh would side with the accused because he was once accused himself.
“It’s important because he’s about to be a judge. He’s about to be nominated on the Supreme Court, and if we have someone like that up there, we are saying … that we don’t take it seriously,” Beery said.
Beery said she is also concerned that some voters will vote strictly based on party lines, even if they, like herself, felt unsure and uneasy after the hearing.
“People who [are] uncertain will either side so much with Kavanaugh that they’re going to vote for the Republican candidate right away, or they’re going to side so much with the Democrats that they are going to vote for them,” Beery said.
Passionate declarations of partisanship in relation to Kavanaugh’s hearing have been expressed by Democratic and Republican leaders alike over the last week. In an interview with MSNBC on Oct. 2, President Donald Trump lauded his constituents for standing behind the nomination.
“I actually think it’s a rallying cry for the Republicans,” Trump said. “They are so in favor of Judge Kavanaugh.”
Senior Nathan Wagner, president of the College Republicans, echoed Trump’s assessment. Wagner said after watching Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh’s hearing, he felt even more motivated to vote in the midterm elections.
“The whole hearing felt like a smear campaign and my heart hurt for a man who has done no wrong,” Wagner said. “The only thing wrong with him is that he is a conservative, and the Left is scared of that.”
Wagner said he does not feel like public opinion expressed through social media is representative of America’s true feelings. Just as when President Trump was elected to office, Wagner said he believes many outspoken Democrats will be surprised by the results of the midterm elections.
“If you look on Twitter and Facebook, you would think that an innocent man was guilty, but learning from the 2016 election, social media doesn’t represent the silent majority,” Wagner said.
On Wednesday, Oct. 3, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture, a key step in the advancement of Kavanaugh’s nomination. As the process continues, Democrats and Republicans alike will have to wait and see if the judge’s case impacts the outcome of midterm elections, and if so, to what extent.