In the last few days I have been in Seattle, Dallas and Des Moines.
In airports, on airplanes, in hotels and in restaurants, I have been approached again and again by people who are glad Republicans stood up for now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh and took on the left. Not a single person has been hostile or negative in five days of travel (and Seattle is hardly lacking in liberals).
I do not remember any political event that has so galvanized Americans. More than 20 million people watched Kavanaugh’s tough, aggressive defense of his family and his life at his Senate confirmation hearing, and it clearly had a powerful impact.
The national conversation has clearly continued to build toward a condemnation of the left and a sense of defending decent people from smears and character assassination.
One startling moment came in Des Moines, when Irene Seuntjens of Ankeny, Iowa walked up to me at the Iowa History Center and announced: “I am a 75-year-old lifetime Democrat who switched to Republican, and I am now volunteering for the GOP candidates.”
Furthermore, members of Seuntjens’ whole family in Iowa, Georgia, Oregon and Wisconsin are also now Republicans. She told me: “The viciousness against Kavanaugh was the last straw. The Democrats are no longer the party of John Kennedy that I belonged to when I was young.”
Seuntjens’ testimonial was reinforced by Merle Miller of Iowa City (home of the University of Iowa and maybe the most liberal town in Iowa) who said: “It comes down to jobs versus mobs.”
The initial polls in state after state have shown a real shift toward the Republicans.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is pulling away in Texas.
Republican Kevin Cramer has a remarkable lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has begun to pull away from Democratic candidate Fred Hubbell in the Iowa governor race.
In Tennessee, former Gov. Phil Bredesen is beginning to fall behind Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn for a Senate seat.
In a Senate race in Arizona, a real gap is opening for Republican Rep. Martha McSally, as Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s own crazy comments have surfaced as a hardline left-winger more suited to Berkeley than Phoenix.
As I am writing this, the Senate race in Nevada has gone from very close (with Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen occasionally ahead by 1 or 2 points) to Republican Sen. Dean Heller gaining a 7-point lead.
In West Virginia, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin – the only Democrat to vote to confirm Kavanaugh – has seen his re-election race tighten up.
And the Senate Democrats’ election fund has just dumped $3 million into New Jersey, suggesting that party leaders are worried about Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s race against Republican Bob Hugin.
I think three things relating to Justice Kavanaugh have happened to change the dynamic against the Democrats and for the Republicans.
First, the sheer viciousness of the smears, lies and character assassination against Kavanaugh galvanized Republicans who had been relatively passive about the election.
Now Republicans are deeply angry about the Democrats’ dishonesty and nastiness.
Republicans were especially offended by the left’s behavior because Kavanaugh has two young daughters who had to endure such personal lies about their father. The Republican base’s energy is dramatically higher than it was two weeks ago.
If “Remember the Alamo” was a rallying cry for Texans, “Remember Kavanaugh” has become a rallying cry for Republicans.
Second, 2018 has become the year when the mask came off the Democratic Party.
On issue after issue, Democrats have become radical advocates of radical policies – policies that they are willing to use radical, coercive actions to force on the American people.
Democrats’ support for open borders, sanctuary cities, government-run health care, higher taxes, bigger government, and endless resistance, investigations and threats of impeachment have all seemed radical.
The Democrats’ intensely hostile description of their opponents – deplorables; people who consort with evil; and people who should be kicked, confronted, and driven out of restaurants and stores – all seem to be a radical break with the American system.
Watching Democratic activists scratch at the Supreme Court doors, they seemed out of control. The behavior of these radical activists is becoming a definer of the Democratic Party – reinforced by incumbent Senate Democrats who are using similar language and tactics in Senate hearing rooms.
For many Americans the mask is off and the Democrats have become a frighteningly dangerous party.
Third, the Kavanaugh fight drove home how much politics and government have become a team sport.
For weeks it was clear that the effort to confirm Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was a fight between the Republican team led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and the Democratic team led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
I first realized how big this shift was when I saw the changing poll numbers in North Dakota and Tennessee. Suddenly voters were saying to the Democratic candidates: “I know who you are –you are on the Schumer team.”
There was no middle ground. Democrats like Bredesen and Heitkamp who claim to be “moderate” were shrugged off because their first vote was going to be for the radical party to be in charge.
I am reminded of a special election in Alabama during the Reagan years. The race was very, very close until two things happened. Vice President George H.W. Bush came to campaign for the Republican candidate and Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts came to campaign for the Democrat.
Within a week there was a 20-point gap, as all of the undecideds concluded that they did not want to send a “moderate” supported by Ted Kennedy to Washington.
The same team identity test is building and virtually guarantees Republicans will gain seats in the Senate and may keep their majority in the House.
The three Kavanaugh impacts have been dramatically reinforced by President Trump crisscrossing the country to huge, enthusiastic rallies, where he drives home the messages day after day.
The Kavanaugh fight is going to prove to be a major turning point in American politics.