As the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh begin Tuesday, pressure is increasing on a few Democratic senators who face re-election this November in states President Donald Trump won by a large margin in 2016, NBC News reported Monday.
The three Democrats feeling the most pressure are Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., all three of whom voted for President Donald Trump’s past Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
The three, none of whom are on the Judiciary Committee that will conduct the hearings, have said they will not make their decision until the confirmation process is over, but they ultimately will have to cast a vote just weeks before the election.
“I think with how close we are to the election, you will see increased pressure on these folks,” one Republican aide working on Senate campaigns told NBC. “Republicans are motivated by the courts, so it’s definitely something that will be hard for Democrats to navigate.”
Democrats are hoping to pressure Kavanaugh with questions about abortion, the constitutionality of Obamacare provisions and his thoughts on if a president should be subject to probes while in office.
Ironically, Senate Republicans could make the decision easier for some of those vulnerable Democrats, because Kavanaugh would get the nomination if there are no GOP defections, and therefore any Democratic vote would not be decisive.
Voters in states represented by three red-state Democrats are much more supportive of Kavanaugh than the national average, with 60 percent of North Dakota voters, 51 percent of West Virginia voters, and 46 percent of Indiana voters wanting him to be confirmed, according to a North Star Opinion Research survey.
This makes it much more difficult for the senators from those states to oppose his nomination.
Some Democrats contend Kavanaugh is not the most important issue on the minds of voters, pointing to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released last week that shows 46 percent do not have a strong opinion about him one way or the other, according to The Washington Post.
“All of the evidence we have still points to healthcare being the defining issue of the election,” a Democratic aide working on Senate campaigns told NBC. “It’s tangible. It’s tied to their personal economy. In metric after metric, in both qualitative and quantitative, healthcare shines through.”
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