Brett Kavanaugh found himself nominated for the Supreme Court during an election year. This is sure to rally the butthurt among Democrats who bemoan the Merrick Garland nomination. This was the case back in 2017 when President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the bench. Only this time, the circumstances are less favorable for Republicans.
Breaking it down, the GOP lost a seat held by Senator Strange to Doug Jones, courtesy of the disaster that was Roy Moore. Jones victory resulted in a -1 for the Republicans and a +1 for the Democrats in this vote. Though, he may be a wild card. Inconveniently, the GOP will be -1 again with the absence of John McCain. McCain, being too ill to perform his duties to the State of Arizona, is selfishly clutching the Senate seat and the crucial vote in a gridlocked Senate. Perhaps the nomination by Trump will result in increased pressure on McCain to resign. This is possible seeing that Brett Kavanaugh was a major insider to the second Bush administration. John McCain could, though unlikely, make the flight just for the vote. Though McCain is an untrustworthy Senator, for Conservatives, the ties to the Bush administration make it more likely he would support the nomination and fly out to do so. Otherwise McCain could retire and the Arizona governor would appoint a temporary replacement.
But assuming there is none of this and present circumstances remain in place, this is a -1 for the GOP. This of course means that there will be 99 votes consisting of 50 Republicans and 49 Democrats (current Independents counted as Democrats). The simple majority favors the Republicans, but that is too simple for politics in DC.
On the Republican side we have multiple wildcards. The least concerning of which is Senator Rand Paul. Rand Paul will raise concerns but is likely to vote in favor of the nomination. So far, he’s had this much to say:
I look forward to the upcoming hearings, reviewing the record, and meeting personally with Judge Kavanaugh, with an open mind.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 10, 2018
John McCains seat is another GOP wildcard. The most concerning of wildcards may be Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who are among the most leftist Senators in the GOP. Murkowski is most likely to defect. But looking at history, they both voted in favor of the Gorsuch nominations. Similar to the Gorsuch nomination, if Murkowski and Collins had voiced their oppositions, the three Democratic defectors may have stayed with party lines. It’s a tough gamble to expect them to vote nay, but it is possible out of defiance they would not vote.
In confirming Neil Gorsuch, three democrats defected: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. All three are in red states. All three are facing an election. Manchin’s election prospects are dim as he is facing a very formidable opponent. Heitkamp is also facing an opponent who can win a statewide election. The same cannot be said of Joe Donnelly in Indiana. Doug Jones is perhaps a wild card, if only because he wasn’t around to vote on Gorsuch. But I don’t consider him one in the next roll count.
But to count again, excluding wildcards we are at 48 Republicans, 46 Democrats, 5 Wildcards and 1 Absentee. Again a simple majority bodes well for the GOP, if the five wildcards split nicely. Democrats would need 4/5 of the wildcards to vote no. Upfront, the most likely is Donnelly. But perhaps the others will accept their political demise and vote no anyway. Perhaps they abstain and an even number results in a tie. In which case, Mike Pence will do the honors of casting a vote for Brett Kavanaugh.
For the Kananaugh nomination, expect bitter politics, and don’t be surprised if we wait until January