Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks onto the Senate floor following a Senate policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Mitch McConnell is a tactical guy. He is not always the most conservative, but he knows how when and where to pick his battles.
At times, he will schedule a show vote to appease the base. There are miles of posts we’ve written on the subject here at RedState. He knows when a vote will look good and when it won’t. For better or worse, he is typically right in this.
Other times, however, when he is at his most passionate, he will schedule a major vote only when he has the votes. His passion over the past two days is proof that this is the case with the Kavanaugh vote.
He gets one shot. He knows that. If Kavanaugh fails in the vote here, it’s over for Kavanaugh. So, McConnell is not going to go into this out of emotional frustration or impatience. If he has filed for cloture, and the vote is set for Friday, we know he’s got the votes.
Because of a lack of public statement from several “swing” vote Republicans, reporters are speculating that their votes are still up in the air. However, I would disagree with that hypothesis.
I don’t think there’s a doubt at this point that Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski are with McConnell. Sure, Flake lives up to his last name, and has been a disappointment as a Republican Senator, but he lives to make people like him. Collins and Murkowski are the same way. So, you have your 51 votes right there.
But, this poll from NPR is an absolute killer for Democrats right now. A 2-point enthusiasm advantage for the Democrats is still an advantage but it was a 10-point advantage in July. Democrats can say Kavanaugh energizes their base, but it has also energized Republican voters and, more importantly, united them.
That means you can reasonably expect some blue state Senators to vote for Kavanaugh. Joe Manchin is at the top of the list. Heidi Heitkamp is in severe trouble, too, and I would not be surprised to see her vote for Kavanaugh – though I imagine it would be at the risk of the Democratic women vote in her state.
The polling is bad enough that, right now, I would be advising Claire McCaskill to vote for Kavanaugh, as well.
These are all known quantities to McConnell. The motion to file for cloture was after the NPR poll came out. He knows Flake, Collins, and Murkowski feel safe. He knows some Democrats are wavering. That is what convinced him to pull the trigger on the vote.
Today, you can also expect the Democrats to throw everything, including possibly a literal kitchen sink, at Kavanaugh. They have no filibuster power anymore (thanks, Harry Reid!), so their only tactics now are smear and defame. They have to go all-in here. They can’t turn back now because they’d show they are terrified of the polling.
They are, but they don’t want to admit it.
Meanwhile, Cocaine Mitch gets credit for swinging the Supreme Court back to a decidedly conservative lean. And, if Trump holds on through 2020, he could get a third nominee to push through.