Joe Manchin, who won reelection last night in West Virginia by 19,000 votes (three points), has excellent cause to believe his vote for Brett Kavanaugh saved his Senate seat. Meanwhile, in Montana, incumbent Democrat Jon Tester may prevail but after voting against Kavanaugh, he is at the moment trailing Republican challenger Matt Rosendale by 0.7 percent. Kavanaugh opponents Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota all went down in flames.
Two of these Democrats lost because Kavanaugh ripped off their masks and revealed them to be mostly party-line Democrats, not moderates who habitually reach across the aisle. A moderate Democrat should not have hesitated to vote for Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, given that he was obviously qualified and given that Christine Blasey Ford simply had no evidence or corroboration for her sexual-assault claim. Indeed, what skimpy details she offered changed in key respects and four people she placed at the house party at which the assault allegedly occurred failed to support her version of events. One of these four people is a lifelong friend of hers.
Even assuming Ford had never stepped forward, virtually all Democrats could never support someone like Kavanaugh because they are at their core the party of abortion. Heitkamp and McCaskill refused to support even a 20-week abortion ban. Donnelly did back the ban and generally is supportive of President Trump, with whom he votes 53 percent of the time according to a 538.com analysis, but in a state as deep-red as Indiana, that isn’t enough. Donnelly’s vote against Kavanaugh was the last straw for Indiana voters. Democrats knew how important the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy was but gambled that the voters wouldn’t pay that much attention to a vote against Kavanaugh. They gambled wrong. Polls suggested Donnelly was likely to win a squeaker. He was ousted by Mike Braun, whose margin is ten points with 89 percent of precincts reporting.