The narrative that emerged after the nomination battle over Brett Kavanaugh was dominated by claims that the Republican base had been energized by disgust at the so-called liberal mob that protested Kavanaugh’s nomination. But I believe that narrative is almost certainly a false, partisan one, likely designed to marginally impact turnout. What is really going on is a surge in enthusiasm by young people, women and minorities. On the whole, this favors Democrats.
Here’s the latest polling data on voter enthusiasm.
The biggest criticism of polls like this is that they’re inaccurate. When voters finally cast ballots, the outcomes are too different from the polls. This particular poll says its margin of error is 3.5 percentage points. But what if the margin is 7 percentage points? Another problem with the polls is that they are aggregate polls that aren’t looking at data in specific political races.
But the numbers are huge. Look at the age and racial categories. The increase in enthusiasm for younger voters and for nonwhites is off the charts relative to 2014, the last midterm election year.
And as I explained at the weekend, the gender gap between parties has increased markedly. And since women tend to vote more than men, this is also a significant factor.
This midterm election is going to be an informal referendum on Donald Trump. And that’s especially true because Republicans in Congress have accepted him as their leader, with little to no pushback on key issues in the last several months. The Kavanaugh hearing makes clear that the Republican party is now marching in lockstep with the president. It is HIS party now.
I would use this paragraph from the Washington Post as a summary:
Among voters who prefer Democratic candidates for the House, 81 percent say they are certain to vote, up from 60 percent in 2014. Among those who support Republican candidates for the House, enthusiasm now stands at 76 percent, compared with 73 percent in October 2014.
The right narrative here is that the Republicans will lose very badly. And so, expect gridlock, political trench warfare, in the US starting in 2019. That’s going to be a significant factor controlling how well the US government responds to crises, including a recession.