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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

SCOTUS Watch: Which Senators Might Flip?


As the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh grows closer, nerves are rising for what will likely be a tight vote. Kavanaugh needs a simple majority of our 100 U.S. Senators to vote in favor of his confirmation for him to be appointed to the court, and the Senate is currently split 50-49 in favor of the Republicans (one short of 100 total after John McCain’s passing).

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, there is reason to believe Roe v. Wade could be significantly compromised in the coming years, and perhaps overturned after that. Given the stakes, the overwhelming majority of Senators are expected to vote along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation and Democrats voting against it. That being said, there are a handful of Senators who may vote against party lines.

For the Democrats, the Senators most likely to flip are Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. All three of these Senators are up for reelection in November, and as red-state Democrats, they are under pressure from their home states to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

For the Republicans, the most likely Senators to flip include Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Dean Heller of Nevada. Collins and Murkowski are pro-choice, and the National Abortion Rights Activist League (NARAL) scores both of them in the 40% range, with Murkowski scoring 42% and Collins scoring 45%. Though these scores are not high overall, they are still very high scores for a Republican. Dean Heller has voted pro-life as of late, but he may flip for the same reasons as the three Democrats mentioned earlier. Heller is a Republican from a relatively blue state (Nevada), and voting against Kavanaugh’s confirmation might help him win reelection in November.

While any of these Senators on either side of the aisle may flip, the Democrats are much more likely to do so than the Republicans. All three of these Democrats voted against party lines to confirm President Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, so there is good reason to believe they will do the same for Kavanaugh. On other hand, every Republican voted in favor of confirming Neil Gorsuch. The vote will be tight, but it is most likely that this vote will be nearly identical to the Gorsuch vote, and that Brett Kavanaugh will win a slim majority to become the next Supreme Court Justice of the United States.

[Today's guest post by Pat Thomas is part of our paid blogging program.]

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