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Midterms 2018

Red Wave? Dem Pollster Sees Republican Surge in Kavanaugh Aftermath

Mark Mellman said there's no question that confirmation hearings woke up GOP voters with only three weeks until the election

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s highly divisive confirmation process shocked Republican voters out of their slumber heading into the midterms, a Democratic pollster said Wednesday.

“There’s no question that Kavanaugh hearings woke up Republicans who really, you know, not so sure about Donald Trump, not so sure about whether how important it is for them to go out and support Republicans in Congress, who they really don’t like,” Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said in an interview with The Hill. “I mean, Republicans don’t feel very favorably about their own congressional leadership.”

Mellman is a leading public opinion researcher and communication strategist. He currently serves as the president of the American Association of Political Consultants and the polling and consulting firm The Mellman Group, whose clients have included former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Related: McConnell Says Dems Still Stoking Political Tensions After Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh’s record and character were relentlessly scrutinized and attacked after President Donald Trump nominated him July 9. Three women publicly accused Kavanaugh, at the 11th hour of the confirmation process, of sexually assaulting them during high school and college freshman parties.

Kavanaugh strenuously denied the allegations, and none of the witnesses the women said would verify their claims did so.

“But the election is still a month off, and the reality is Kavanaugh is seated as a justice of the Supreme Court — the issue is over. So are they going to go back to their previous lethargy, or are they going to continue to be excited? We have no idea,” Mellman said.

Mellman is not alone in finding a GOP surge. Rasmussen Reports found, in a survey released Wednesday, that 62 percent of Republicans are more likely to vote because of the bitter Kavanaugh confirmation process, compared to 54 percent of Democrats.

Rasmussen also said Wednesday that voters are now evenly split between Democrats and Republicans on the generic ballot for the November 6 voting, with each party drawing 45 percent support.

Related: Survey Says Republicans Are Madder and More Likely to Vote Than Dems

Democrats have led the generic ballot, which measures which party’s candidates a voter plans to support, all of 2018, often by double digits. As a result, mainstream media outlets and liberal political pundits have for most of the year projected a “Blue Wave” in November that would restore a Democratic majority in the House.

In another indication of greatly increased Republican enthusiasm following the Kavanaugh controversy, the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced that it has generated 50 million volunteer voter contacts across 28 states and 172 congressional districts.

The “50-million threshold [comes] three weeks ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, making more volunteer voter contacts this cycle than during any other election cycle in history. Combined with the RNC’s digital get-out-the-vote efforts and other traditional non-volunteer outreach, the RNC will make billions of voter engagements by Election Day on November 6,” the committee said in a statement Friday.

meet the author

Connor D. Wolf covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at [email protected].