The Current

Midterm election candidates 'can't be neutral' on Kavanaugh decision, says prof

Brett Kavanaugh's ascent to the Supreme Court has divided the U.S. public. With next month's midterm elections, one expert argues that candidates seeking election won't be able to ignore the issue.

Appointment could hurt Republican prospects in midterms, says prof

Protesters thronged the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building on Saturday as senators voted 50-48 to confirm Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. (Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS)

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Candidates in the U.S. midterm elections can't hide from the rancour over Brett Kavanaugh's ascent to the Supreme Court, according to a political science professor.

"What the Kavanaugh hearing has done is nationalize the elections," said Dan Cassino, associate professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University, in Teaneck, N.J.

"Now that's probably gonna be good for Republicans in the Senate, but it's likely to be very, very bad for them in the elections for the House of Representatives," he told The Current's guest host David Common.

Kavanaugh was confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court justice on Saturday, with a Senate vote of 50-48 in his favour. His nomination was dogged by accusations of sexual misconduct, culminating in a day of public hearings and an FBI investigation.

Kavanaugh controversy: Key moments in roller-coaster ride from nomination to confirmation

4 years ago
Duration 4:41
A recap of Brett Kavanaugh's journey to the U.S. Supreme Court, from his nomination through a roller-coaster Senate hearing to confirmation.

The midterm elections, scheduled for Nov. 6, had been seen as a referendum on U.S. President Donald Trump. But the divisive Kavanaugh hearings have both sides claiming their base has been energized.

"In the sort of swing districts that are going to decide control of the House, those districts are really decided by moderate women, especially moderate, younger, white women," Cassino said.

"The Kavanaugh hearings present a real problem for a candidate running in those districts on the Republican ticket," he added.

"There's simply no way to be neutral on this, which is what those candidates would really, really like to do."

To discuss the election, Common was joined by:

  • Matt Mackowiak, a Republican consultant and president of the Potomac Strategy Group, a PR and strategic communications firm
  • LA Kauffman, grassroots activist, organizer and author of How to Read a Protest
  • Dan Cassino, associate professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University

Listen to the full discussion near the top of this page.

Produced by The Current's ​Zena Olijnyk and Ghalia Bdiwe.


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