This may be noise. It may simply be the consolidation and energizing of both major party bases which is expected and inevitable in the closing weeks of the campaign. But there’s enough bits of evidence to suggest that Republicans have gotten more energized and focused on the election in the last week or so – more certainty about voting, more focus on turning out to support Republican candidates and President Trump.
There’s nothing to suggest a dramatic change from the picture we’ve seen over recent months that points to a strong Democratic showing and a solid chance of reclaiming control of the House of Representatives. But small things matter. And it is always important to remember that gerrymandering and the concentration of Democratic voters in urban areas means that Democrats need to not just to win the aggregate votes for the House but win it by a significant margin to regain control. To win they need to win big – if we’re judging by things like the generic ballot.
Finally, I think there’s good reason to think the fight over the Kavanaugh nomination is energizing Republican voters and re-partisanizing some wavering Republican voters. This shouldn’t surprise us. It’s charging up the political world with something which, for better or worse, Republicans are galvanized about rather than the constant drip of news about the Russia probe or President Trump’s various scandals, all of which are enervating for Republican partisans. It is not that it’s not energizing Democrats too. It clearly is. We don’t need polls to tell us that. But for all the reasons we know Democrats are already pretty energized. Put simply, there are a lot of Republican voters, particularly male Republican voters, who see what has been happening over the last couple weeks and are charged up with what we might call the perception of ‘male threat’.
None of this is to say that things are terrible or suggest a sense that the sky is falling. But it’s important to recognize what’s happening. In a practical sense, no one should be taking anything for granted. The Kavanaugh fight is a new and dramatically new different to crystallize the election around, one that already is energizing Republican voters and could do more. I would take nothing for granted.