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Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.
AP/Tom Williams
Ford is sworn in.
ELECTION DAY IS NOV. 6

The Kavanaugh hearing is a political disaster for Republicans—just ask them

By Tim Fernholz

Republican strategists think Christine Blasey Ford’s Senate testimony about her alleged sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh is going to be a problem.

Behind the gravity of a Supreme Court nomination and America’s ongoing struggle to engage with the basic humanity of women, there are the upcoming congressional elections. With midterm turnout likely to fall from 2016, both parties are looking to drive up the enthusiasm of their voters to get the out.

Putting Donald Trump’s ultra-conservative nominee on the bench is a major priority for the GOP, but his record of misleading Congress and multiple allegations of sexual assault while heavily drinking has his nomination under threat. Democrats have capitalized on public outrage to demand a new nominee and remind voters of Trump’s own history of facing credible allegations of sexual assault.

Perhaps Kavanaugh’s testimony before the judiciary committee later today will help his case. And senate Republicans can ultimately ignore whatever comes out at the hearing and vote Kavanaugh over the line. Even if they do, the spectacle of Ford testifying about her assault—in front of the all-male Republican members of the committee who chose to hire a female prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, so they would not have to question her—will reverberate to the election day.

So far, at least, Republicans are worried that today’s events will drive Democrats to the voting booth and keep centrist voters from holding their nose and voting GOP. Indeed, three Republican governors—John Kasich of Ohio, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland—have asked for a delay in the vote.

In the White House:

On Fox News:

Among Republican campaign strategists:

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the name of Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor hired by the Senate judiciary committee.

Tim Fernholz
Reporter
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