The Kavanaugh Court Complexities—Sunday Political Brunch September 23, 2018

Sunday, September 23, 2018

 

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Mark Curtis

I have no idea what happened with Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Basely 36 years ago, but I can certainly look at my “crystal ball” to assess to implications today. As I often say, as a political analyst I try to assess what may happen based on history, public mood, facts (or lack of facts), and then come to my conclusion. Yes, it’s a guess, but I hope after over forty years of covering politics it’s an educated guess. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Who’s in the Bullpen?” – Look, in baseball season when the team’s starting pitcher is faltering, the manager looks to the bullpen for relief. Make no mistake, the White House and GOP Senators are already vetting other candidates if Kavanaugh fails. Why? In politics – as in most endeavors – you need a backup plan. Let’s just say Kavanaugh can’t get 51 votes and Republicans then lose the Senate in the November elections. They still hold power until January 3, enough time to confirm another conservative. Yes, they lose the Senate majority for maybe two or four years, but they could control the Supreme Court for the next 25 years. That’s huge!

“The Modern Math” – Right now Republicans hold a 51 to 49 seat majority in the U.S. Senate. If one member of the caucus bolts, say Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) or Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the GOP could still confirm Kavanaugh with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking vote. But if Republicans lose two votes and no Democrats vote yes, Kavanaugh is gone. As for the House (which does not have a Supreme Court vote), the backlash against how Republicans handle this, could affect voters in marginal districts. Right now, the GOP holds 236 House seats, to 193 for Democrats, with six vacancies. If Republicans have a net loss of 19 votes, they cede power to Democrats in the House.

“Clarence Thomas v. Anita Hill, 1991” – I’ve heard all week, from people on both sides, that this is the same the as the confirmation showdown in 1991 between Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and law professor Anita Hill. That was a controversial, inflamed national debate, but it’s not the same as today. Yes, both bear that “he said; she said” storyline with no corroboration, but the media and societal climates have changed a lot. There was no Facebook or Twitter in 1991, stirring public opinion. And there was nothing akin to the #MeToo solidarity movement of today. The cases may have similarities, but the stage is way different.

“What Else Has Changed?” – The public discussion of sexual impropriety in the workplace - or in any societal setting – just began to emerge in the Thomas-Hill era. Conversely, we are just coming off a year in which such notable Americans as Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Les Moonves, Roger Ailes, and countless others have had their careers felled by accusations and admissions of sexual misconduct. What started as a few raindrops in the Thomas case, is now a full-fledged Category-5 Hurricane today. I’m not saying Kavanaugh is guilty – how on Earth would I know? But, the jury pool is much different in 2018 than in 1991.

“It’s a Different Congress, Too!” – In 1991, just two women served in the U.S. Senate. Both were white, with one a Democrat, and the other a Republican. Today 23 women serve in the Senate and four are women of color. By party, 17 are Democrats and six are Republican. I’m not saying women will always side with women, because that’s clearly not the case. What I am saying, is the make-up of the body (and the way we treat each other) has shifted dramatically.

“No More ‘House Keeping!’” – The U.S. House – while not having a role in the confirmation process – is certainly reflective of the changing political landscape and public mood. In 1991 just 31 women served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today there are 84. In both chambers there has been steady growth in female membership since the 1992 election, just one year after the Thomas-Hill dispute. Now that’s not the sole reason, but it’s certainly been a factor. Women’s economic and educational gains are probably the biggest reason for their rise in political clout, but the concerns over sexual mistreatment cannot be discounted.

“The Tone” – Almost to a person, most Republican Senators and President Trump have said that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford should be heard from, that she should be allowed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee; and in fairness, Judge Kavanaugh should be able to tell his side of the story. Originally the idea was to have them appear Monday - but Ford balked – though she may be willing to come later in the week. She also asked the FBI to investigate her claim, which it declined since that’s not what the FBI does. Her team may be inadvertently putting her in a tough spot. In a courtroom, for example – and I know confirmation is not a legal case – but the combatants don’t get to choose the dates, who investigates, and what questions get asked. If her requests make the problem too burdensome to Senators, they may just go ahead and vote without her. That could backfire against them. So, we may see some accommodation on both sides.

“Two Alternative Hypotheses” – Women vote in greater numbers than men. In 2016, 52 percent of American who cast ballots were women, compared to 48 percent men. Furthermore, 54 percent of those women voted for Hillary Clinton, to 41 percent for Donald Trump – the biggest gender gap recorded since 1972. That would seem to say women have the upper hand in politics, and perhaps in the Kavanaugh debate. But remember, in 2016, the bottom line was that Donald Trump won the Electoral College and therefore the presidency. I’m not by any stretch saying that Kavanaugh’s fate will be decided by gender politics. Quite conversely – many senators, and the public – may say these accusations are from too long ago, with faded memories, and no corroboration. In a vacuum of evidence, Kavanaugh may just get confirmed, and we’ll see how the political fallout shakes out on November 6th.

Share your opinions at: www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar media TV stations serving West Virginia and surrounding states.

 

Related Slideshow: GoLocal Statewide Poll - Conducted by Harvard’s Della Volpe - June, 2018

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Registered Voters

Q1: Are you registered to vote in Rhode Island?

Total 501 100%
Yes: 501 100%
No: 0 0%
Don't know: 0 0%

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Gender

Q2: Are you ...
Total
Total: 100%
Male: 44%
Female: 56%

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Age

Q3: In which age group are you?

18-24:  7%
25-34:  16%
35-44:  15%
45-54:  20%
55-64: 17%
65+      25%

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Political Party

Q4: When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

Democrat: 38%
Republican:14%
Moderate: 6%
Unaffiliated: 39%
Don't know/Refused: 3%

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Likely Voters

Q5: Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices.  How likely is it that you will vote in this election?   Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

 

Definitely be voting.............................. 81%

Probably be voting............................... 19%

All others.............................................   0%

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Top Issue

Q6: What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
 

Taxes.................................................. .18%

Jobs and economy.............................. 16%

State budget.........................................11%

Roads...................................................10%

Education............................................  8%

Healthcare...........................................  5%

Corruption/Public integrity.................... 4%

Immigration..........................................  4%

Housing.............................................. ..2%

Governor............................................. ..2%

Homelessness.......................................1%

 

Other.. ............................................... 14%

Don’t know..........................................   6%

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Direction

Q7: In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?
 

Right track........................................... 19%

Wrong track......................................... 36%

Mixed.................................................. 45%

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Optimism

Q8: Thinking ahead several years, is your outlook about Rhode Island more optimistic or more pessimistic?   
 

Optimistic............................................ 52%

Pessimistic...........................................48%
 

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Finances

Q9: Over the last three years or so, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?
 

Changed for the better......................... 24%

Changed for the worse......................... 33%

Not changed at all................................ 43%

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Governor

Q10: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Gina Raimondo, a Democrat

I am sure to vote for her:  9%

There is a good chance I will vote for her:  19%

It is possible that I vote for her:  24%

It is unlikely that I will vote for her:  18%

I will never vote for her:  31%

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Governor

Q11: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Matt Brown, a Democrat

I am sure to vote for him:  4%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  8%

It is possible that I vote for him:  40%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  30%

I will never vote for him:  17%
 

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Governor

Q12: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Spencer Dickinson, a Democrat

I am sure to vote for him:  3%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  7%

It is possible that I vote for him:  37%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  35%

I will never vote for him:  18%

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Governor

Q13: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Paul Roselli, a Democrat 

I am sure to vote for him:  2%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  7%

It is possible that I vote for him:  35%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  37%

I will never vote for him:  19%

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Governor

Q14: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Allan Fung, a Republican 

I am sure to vote for him:  7%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  18%

It is possible that I vote for him:  28%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  25%

I will never vote for him:  21%

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Governor

Q15: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Patricia Morgan, a Republican 

I am sure to vote for her:  3%

There is a good chance I will vote for her.:   9%

It is possible that I vote for her:  32%

It is unlikely that I will vote for her:  35%

I will never vote for her:  21%

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Governor

Q16: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Giovanni Feroce, a Republican 

I am sure to vote for him:  2%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  5%

It is possible that I vote for him:  24%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  35%

I will never vote for him:  34%

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Governor

Q17: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Luis-Daniel Muñoz, an Independent

I am sure to vote for him:  3%

There is a good chance I will vote for him: 6%

It is possible that I vote for him: 33%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him: 38%

I will never vote for him: 21%

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Governor

Q18: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Joe Trillo, an Independent

I am sure to vote for him:  1%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  8%

It is possible that I vote for him:  37%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  34%

I will never vote for him:  19%

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Governor

Q20: If the election for Governor were held today and the candidates were: Democrat Gina Raimondo, Republican Allan Fung and Independent Joe Trillo - for whom would you vote?        

Allan Fung, a Republican..................... 33%

Gina Raimondo, a Democrat................ 33%

Joe Trillo, and Independent.................. 16%

Don't know     18%

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Governor

Q20: If the election for Governor were held today and the candidates were: Democrat Gina Raimondo, Republican Patricia Morgan and Independent Joe Trillo - for whom would you vote?         

Gina Raimondo, a Democrat................ 39%

Patricia Morgan, a Republican............. 20%

Joe Trillo, an Independent................... 19%

Don't know ......................................... 22%

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Governor

Q21: If the election for Governor were held today and the candidates were: Democrat Matt Brown, Republican Allan Fung and Independent Joe Trillo - for whom would you vote? 

Allan Fung, a Republican..................... 35%

Matt Brown, a Democrat...................... 25%

Joe Trillo, an Independent.................... 14%

Don't know .......................................... 27%
 

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Governor

Q22: If the election for Governor were held today and the candidates were: Democrat Matt Brown, Republican Patricia Morgan and Independent Joe Trillo - for whom would you vote?        

Matt Brown, a Democrat...................... 30%

Patricia Morgan, a Republican............. 20%

Joe Trillo, an Independent.................... 18%

Don't know .......................................... 33%

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U.S. Senate

Q23: If the election for the U.S. Senate were held today and the candidates were: [ROTATE] Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse and Republican Robert Nardolillo - for whom would you vote?

Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat........... 53%

Robert 'Bobby' Nardolillo, a Republican.. 31%

Don't know............................................... 16%

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U.S. Senate

Q24: If the election for the U.S. Senate were held today and the candidates were: [ROTATE] Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse and Republican Robert Flanders - for whom would you vote?           

Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat........ 54%

Robert Flanders, a Republican............. 32%

Don't know.......................................... 14%

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Schools

Q25: If there was an election today, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $250 million in financing supported general obligation bonds to repair Rhode Island's deteriorating school buildings and bring them up to minimum standards called "warm, safe and dry"?

Net: Approve...................................... 74%

Definitely approve............................... 36%

Probably approve................................ 38%
 

Net: Reject......................................... 17%

Probably reject....................................   9%

Definitely reject....................................   7%


Don't know..........................................   9%

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PawSox

Q26: The Rhode Island General Assembly is in the process of negotiating a $40 million public financing deal with the Pawtucket Red Sox for a new stadium, hoping to bring a vote before the House and Senate this summer.  

In general, do you favor or oppose the use of public funds to help finance a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox?
 

Net: Favor.......................................... 33%

Strongly favor...................................... 13%

Somewhat favor.................................. 21%
 

Net: Oppose....................................... 59%

Somewhat oppose.............................. 21%

Strongly oppose.................................. 38%
 

Don't know..........................................   8%

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Fane Tower

Q27: The City of Providence and the state of Rhode Island are considering a proposal by New York developer Jason Fane to build a 46-story luxury residence tower in Providence, next to a public riverfront park.  The developer will invest $250 to $300 million of his own funds.  The project is called the Hope Point Tower, it would be 170-feet taller than the Superman building and would require waiving height restrictions and the use of state tax credits.

In general, do you favor or oppose development of the Hope Point Tower?

 

Net: Favor.......................................... 39%

Strongly favor...................................... 13%

Somewhat favor.................................. 27%


Net: Oppose....................................... 50%

Somewhat oppose.............................. 23%

Strongly oppose.................................. 27%


Don't know.......................................... 11%

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Elorza/Traffic Cameras

Q28: How would you rate the job that Mayor Jorge Elorza has done managing issues related to speed cameras in Providence?

Net: Excellent/Good.......................... 26%

Excellent.............................................   6%

Good................................................... 20%

Net: Fair/Poor.................................... 74%

Fair...................................................... 29%

Poor.................................................... 45%

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Q29: Since it was launched in 2016, UHIP -- the Rhode Island program designed to improve customer service for those who receive federal benefits -- has run into significant problems, including long lines, cost overruns, lost applications, over- and under-charging of patients and families.   

Based on what you know at this time, what percent of 
blame for this do you assign to:
 

Deloitte, the consulting company who
produced the system........................... 53.3%

Governor Gina Raimondo, who has
been governor since the system
launch in September 2016................... 47.1%

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NIMBYism

Q30: Presently, there are local groups opposing the development of a natural gas facility in Burrillville, solar projects in Exeter, a LNG facility in Providence and wind projects in North Kingstown. 
Some people say that it is important for local groups to play a role in opposition 
of projects like these that could be dangerous or harmful to citizens; 

Others say that local groups have gone too far to the detriment of the state’s long-term energy needs. 

Which statement comes closer to your own view?

 

Local groups play an important role...... 46%

Local groups have gone too far............. 31%

Not sure................................................. 24%

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Corruption

Q31: Compared to other states, do you think there is:

More political corruption in RI................. 63%

Less political corruption in RI................   7%

About the same level as other states..... 30%
 

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Income

Q32: The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS.  Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).  

$50,000 or less.................................... 33%

More $50,000 but less than $75,000..... 18%

More $75,000 but less than $100,000... 16%

More $100,000 but less than $150,000. 13%

$150,000 or more................................ 10%

Don't know/refused.............................. 10%

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Ethnicity

Q33: What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?  

Net: White, Non-Hispanic..................... 82%

Black or African American....................   6%

Latino/Hispanic....................................   5%

Other....................................................   7%

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Geography

Q34: City/Town Into Region.

West Bay............................................ 28%

Metro-Providence................................ 28%

Blackstone Valley................................ 21%

South County...................................... 10%

East Bay............................................. 13%

 
 

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