Date
12 December 2018
Of the Democratic senators who faced a closely contested race, none of those who voted against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh succeeded in getting themselves re-elected. Photo: AFP
Of the Democratic senators who faced a closely contested race, none of those who voted against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh succeeded in getting themselves re-elected. Photo: AFP

Why Kavanaugh saga could have cost Democrats control of Senate

With the US midterm elections having drawn to a close, political pundits across America have been analyzing the results.

According to one commentator, US voters have “punished” the Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Democrats in the Senate.

I think the commentator has a point. One important factor that led to GOP’s loss of the House is probably the lackluster and laid-back approach to campaigning that Speaker Paul Ryan adopted for his partymates, which could have indirectly undermined the passion of the Republican support base.

For the Democrats, it appears that the way they handled the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh has taken a significant toll on their popularity, thereby resulting in their further loss of seats in the Senate.

Of all the Democratic senators who faced a closely contested race, none of those who voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation succeeded in getting themselves re-elected.

The only exception was Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, who managed to hang on to his seat which he has been holding since 2010, and who was the only Democratic senator who voted in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

To be honest, we will probably never find out whether all the sexual assault accusations against Kavanaugh, including that of psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, were true or not.

The problem is, during the course of dealing with Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, the Democrats exhibited an issue with their logic that may have put off some voters.

For example, Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii publicly stated that when it comes to questioning the authenticity of any sexual assault allegation, all men should “shut up”.

Many left-wing politicians who took her side also insisted that we should “believe the victim”.

However, even self-proclaimed left-wing political talk show host Bill Maher found it “scary” that some people automatically believe the female accuser in a sexual misconduct case even in the absence of any solid evidence.

The Democrats’ notion that one should believe the victims of sexual assault carries the same logic as the idea that one should always believe people who are telling the truth.

Both statements appear logical at first glance, but they don’t make any practical sense: you must first prove that people are telling the truth before you can believe them.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 9

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/CG

PhD student in economics at Stanford

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