Dem 49
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Ties 1
GOP 50
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GOP Confident Kavanaugh Will Be Confirmed

Donald Trump and key Republican leaders are now increasingly confident that Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh will testify again before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday to give the senators a chance to ask him if he tried to rape Christine Blasey Ford when he was 17. He will say: "No, sir, I did not." The Republican senators will all feel relieved and vote to confirm him later in the week, having fulfilled their civic duty.

Ford may or may not testify. Her lawyer said that she wants the FBI to fully investigate the matter before testifying. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has said there is no time for that (meaning that there is an election coming up in less than 7 weeks and a vote too close to it could be toxic for the GOP). Whether Ford will relent and testify anyway remains to be seen, but it is abundantly clear that Grassley, Trump, and the Republican leadership don't care a whit about getting the truth. What they care about is getting Kavanaugh confirmed as fast as possible.

One example of their lack of interest in the truth is a new report from Ford's classmate, Cristina King Miranda, who is saying that many of the girls at the school heard about the alleged rape attempt right after it occurred. In a thorough investigation, the FBI would interview Miranda and as many other classmates of both Kavanaugh and Ford as possible to try to corroborate either story. But Grassley has no interest in a thorough investigation.

One of the reasons Republicans are feeling more confident now is that Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who is retiring and thus doesn't have to worry about an election, has changed his tune. At first he wanted a thorough investigation. Now his priority is voting quickly. Ditto for Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is also retiring. We've seen this scenario play out many times. Some Republican senators are "concerned" about something the leadership is doing (like ramming through a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court without thoroughly vetting the candidate, or voting for a tax bill none of them has read), but in the end almost all of them fall in line.

The public is lukewarm about Kavanaugh. An Ipsos poll taken Sept. 11-17 found that 31% of U.S. adults want Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court and 36% do not want him there. Opposition to Kavanaugh has been slowly growing over the past weeks. But public opinion doesn't really matter much to the senators.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is in something of a bind. He knows that if the Senate basically brushes off Ford and approves Kavanaugh this week, it might cost Republicans the House and maybe even the Senate. On the other hand, having a new justice on the Supreme Court who has been groomed by the Federalist Society for years for precisely this position, is such a big prize that it might be worth giving up the House for one cycle. It's true that if the Republicans give Ford short shrift, it may give the red-state senators up in November an out when they are attacked for voting against him, but a 51-to-49 confirmation keeps the new justice on the Court just as long as a 100-to-0 confirmation. After all, Clarence Thomas was confirmed 52 to 48 and 17 years later, he is still going strong with another 10 or 15 years to go. So for the Republicans, getting at the truth is irrelevant. The tradeoff is angering college-educated women and losing the House for one cycle but getting a justice they like for 30+ years vs. making the women happy and maybe not losing the House but possibly losing the chance to fill a Supreme Court slot. (V)

Trump: I Don't Have an Attorney General

In an interview with The Hill, yesterday Donald Trump said: I don't have an attorney general. It's very sad." Of course, that is complete nonsense. He has an attorney general. He just doesn't have one who sees his job as being Trump's personal lawyer, although he does see his job as carrying out Trump's policies, especially on immigration. Trump's beef with AG Jeff Sessions is that he recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. As Sessions explained to the Senate Intelligence Committee in April, he had no choice because Dept. of Justice regulation 28 CFR 45.2 required him to do it. But Trump doesn't understand Dept. of Justice regulations. All he knows is that that special counsel Robert Mueller is closing in on him, he is scared about what comes next, and wants the AG to protect him by shutting down the investigation. (V)

College Students Don't Vote Because They Don't Know How How to Buy a Stamp

It is well known that millennials in general and college students in particular have miserable voting records. A focus group in Virginia tried to find out why. One of the results was somewhat surprising, at least to nonstudents. Students can request an absentee ballot online. That is something they are quite familiar with and can do easily. Next they fill it out and put it in the envelope it comes with. Then they notice the message in the upper right corner of the envelope that a stamp is needed. This is where the trouble comes in. What's a stamp and where might one acquire one? That question flummoxed many students. One focus group member noted: "That seems to be like a hump that they can't get across." All of the members said they knew lots of people who wanted to vote but couldn't because they didn't know how to get a stamp.

Actually, buying stamps online is easy. Just go to store.usps.com/store/home and buy them online. Maybe counties ought to include an enclosure along with the absentee ballot pointing out that the Postal Service sells stamps online. It might increase voter participation considerably among college students and millennials. (V)

Indicted Congressman Will Actively Campaign for Reelection

After Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) was indicted for securities fraud, Republican leaders in New York frantically looked for a way to get a replacement on the ballot, but somehow it didn't succeed and his name will still appear there. That being the case, Collins has decided to actively campaign to keep his seat. After all, if he is found not guilty at his trial, he will need a job and his current one pays $174,000, so why not try to keep it? His upstate NY-27 district is R+11, so normally an unindicted Republican incumbent should have a pretty good chance of holding it, but if the voters think he is a crook, his opponent, Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray (D) could win. Needless to say, the indictment changes the dynamics of the race enormously. McMurray isn't going to talk about Trump or liberal vs. conservative, or any policy issues. He is just going to hammer Collins for breaking the law. Politics is full of peculiarities. When McMurray signed up to be the Democratic candidate, he had to know it was a hopeless quest and he would be crushed. But now a turn of events he could not have foreseen has made it into a real horse race. If he makes it to D.C., he might want to compare notes with Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), a member of the Senate who by all rights shouldn't be there. (V)

You'll Probably Be Disappointed on Election Night

According to Nathan Gonzales at Roll Call, most partisans, both Democrats and Republicans, are likely to be disappointed on election night. The problem is that there are so many races that could be close that they might not be called for days. In addition, with the Senate hanging in the balance, with one or two races that might require counting all the absentee ballots, the results might not be known for days. Also, there could be recounts in close races. Additionally, Washington State has several close House races and all the votes are mailed in, so it is possible that they can't be called for days after election day. Finally, the Mississippi special Senate election probably won't produce a winner on election night, so that race probably can't be called until the runoff on Nov. 27. So people wanting to know "which party will control Congress" may be in for an unhappy night on Nov. 6. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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