On Saturday, YouGov pollsters released the nation’s first survey about whether America believes Professor Blasey Ford or Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh regarding the allegations of sexual assault in the 1980s.
The results are striking. Seventy-four percent of Republicans believe Judge Kavanaugh while 73 percent of Democrats believe Ford. Meanwhile, independents are evenly split, with 33 percent backing Ford while 32 percent back Judge Kavanaugh.
In other words, it’s a wash. And, for Democrats, that is an absolute nightmare.
Democrats have long known they were unlikely to stop Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court. After all, Republicans control 51 seats in the Senate and need only 50 votes to confirm his lifetime appointment.
The only hope was to find or create a horrific allegation against Kavanaugh and leak it to the press just before a final vote. The accusation didn’t need to be accurate or verifiable, of course. Democrats simply needed a dramatic distraction and subsequent delay.
The resulting chaos would push Kavanaugh’s nomination beyond facts and due process (where Democrats would likely lose) and into the court of media and public opinion (where Democrats could possibly win).
Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Braveheart-like performance at the Kavanaugh hearing was the most moving, to be sure, but anecdotal reading of conservative media, intellectuals and Twitter feeds confirm that the Democratic assault has awakened a Republican giant.
The key to success would be moderate senators, especially those up for re-election. They had to be shamed or shouted into submission by a frothy media circus or radicalized activist groups who needed no convincing about the veracity of the claims.
But the fight wouldn’t be just about Kavanaugh. By using allegations of sexual assault, the progressive base would be electrified into action during the November midterm elections just weeks away. The optics of the fight – a privileged heterosexual white man vs. an innocent, powerless teen girl – would be irresistible catnip.
In other words, weaponizing and politicizing sexual assault could shore up a Blue Wave and maybe turn it into a Blue Tsunami.
Until now, the progressive strategy has worked quite brilliantly. The media has been relentless in backing Ford and her claims, with rapid-response outrage if anyone dared to challenge Ford’s facts or insist on careful due process.
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh has been successfully vilified as a rich, drunken, lying gang-rapist. One media outlet suggested he’s actually a pedophile.
And yet after two weeks of this fiery assault, we have our first peek at what the American people think. To the surprise of progressives, Ford does not have an avalanche of support. Instead, the country is split.
More importantly, independents are split. That gives vacillating senators like Flake, Collins, Murkowski, and Manchin the political room to vote on facts and due process rather than at knifepoint from screaming mobs.
It also means the progressive strategy of using sexual assault victims to bolster midterm turnout just backfired. Before the Kavanaugh fiasco, polls showed Republicans as less likely to vote in November than Democrats. The conservative base just wasn’t motivated to show up as compared to progressives.
That is no longer the case.
Republicans are now aflame with outrage. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Braveheart-like performance at the Kavanaugh hearing was the most moving, to be sure, but anecdotal reading of conservative media, intellectuals and Twitter feeds confirm that the Democratic assault has awakened a Republican giant.
Indeed, the strategy of Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein has utterly backfired. A Republican surge is underway.
And if Democrats thus fall short this November, they will suffer the rightful consequences of using the victims of sexual assault to advance a political agenda.
Bryan Dean Wright is a former CIA Operations Officer and member of the Democratic Party. He contributes on issues of politics, national security, and the economy. Follow him on Twitter @BryanDeanWright.