Presidential Race Stable, But Will Supreme Court Bombshell Change Anything? Especially In The Senate
The nightmares that Democrats and progressives have been having repeatedly over the past four years came true. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal anchor of the court, died, just 46 days before a presidential election that could have decided her successor. That means Donald Trump, at least for the time being, gets to appoint her successor and gets to shift the court to a 6-3 conservative one that could be locked in place for decades. If the Senate, led by Mitch “Donald’s Boots Taste Too Good” McConnell, lets him.
In a presidential race that has been fairly stable for the past year, could this be the shakeup we were all waiting for? The punditry seems to suggest it will galvanize right wing voters who made feel down on Trump due to his mismanagement – and that’s putting it lightly – of the pandemic and the endless barrage of scandals. But it could be a wash, or even a boon for Democrats. The nightmare having come true, it may galvanize them in ways they never have been before. After Ginsburg died Friday night, Democrats raised over $100 million in donations to Senate and other candidates, suggesting her passing has lit a fire under the Democratic base in a way nothing has since Barack Obama.
Early polls suggest most voters think Ginsburg’s replacement should be named by whoever wins the November election, be it Trump or Biden, but when have Republicans cared about what the majority wants? They’re in power despite the majority not voting for them.
Still, the GOP Senate Majority is tenuous. They have two seats up in six weeks in states that Hillary Clinton won and five more in battleground states. Of the two Clinton seats, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is already a write-off (and hasn’t swayed from voting with Trump despite it). He’s expected to lose to former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. He already said he’d vote to confirm a replacement. The other Clinton state is Maine, where GOP Sen. Susan Collins, who always won by big margins despite being in a blue state, is in big trouble. She has waffled on whether or not she’d vote for a replacement, but she’s already trailing her Democratic challenger, State House Speaker Sara Gideon by mid-single digits and Trump is way behind Biden in the state. Voting against confirmation might not save her, which may free her to vote FOR a nominee, having nothing left to lose.
Of the five Trump-battleground states, Arizona, which Trump narrowly carried in 2016 and currently trails in, is the third likely pickup for Democrats. Appointed incumbent Martha McSally is trailing astronaut and Mr. Gabby Giffords himself Mark Kelly in polls. McSally, who was appointed to the late John McCain’s seat in 2018, is sticking with Trump on a confirmation hearing, much like Gardner, preferring to go out appealing to the base.
The other four battleground state Senate races include both Georgia seats, where Democrats are vying to defeat appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. Dave Perdue; North Carolina, where Democrat Cal Cunningham is taking on Sen. Thom Tills and Iowa where Sen. Joni Ernst is up against Democrat Theresa Greenfield. Recent polls have shown Cunningham and Greenfield slightly ahead of the incumbents, while Democrat Jon Ossof is tied or slightly behind Perdue in Georgia and the Loeffler race is in flux. Because it is a special, a jungle primary featuring Republican Rep. Doug Collins and Democrats Ralph Warnock and Matt Lieberman will be held first with the top two going to a runoff. It’s possible neither Democrat could make it, though recent polls show Loeffler and Warnock, the pastor at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, in the top two spots.
Interestingly, if Democrats beat McSally and Loeffler, the winning candidates would take office before the end of the year, as they are special elections. That would reduce the GOP majority to 51-49 almost immediately.
Where the Supreme Court battle could help Republicans is in red states where Democratic Senate candidates have been doing well – Alaska, Kansas, Montana, Texas and South Carolina – galvanizing Republicans to vote for their Senate choice even if they don’t vote for Trump. It could also cut the other way as well.
As for the presidential race, no big changes. Pennsylvania though hangs on the edge of going back into tossup status, but Biden has led in every poll out of there, and is close to, or at, 50 percent there. I feel the same way about Pennsylvania for Biden as i do about Trump for Texas, where polls actually show a slightly closer race; not quite tossups, but close.
Tossups remain: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa and Maine’s 2nd District. In the Lean Biden states other than Pennsylvania, polls still show Biden comfortably ahead in Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska’s 2nd District, Minnesota and Arizona.
43 days to go.