Wall Street Journal: Trump, Kavanaugh and McCain Drive Election Results

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Trump, Kavanaugh and McCain Drive Election Results

Republicans suffered from health reform failure but an energized base clears the way for more conservative judges.




An unpopular President with a record of significant achievement helped yield Tuesday’s split decision in congressional elections. The buoyant economy resulting from President Trump’s bold slashing of tax rates and regulations helped Republicans avoid a rout like those inflicted on the party holding the White House in 1994 and 2010. But his polarizing manner and the Senate’s failure to reform U.S. health law helped Democrats pick off enough suburban districts to retake control of the House.

Meanwhile, the bruising and successful battle to seat Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court helped the GOP expand its Senate majority, which in turn allows the seating of more jurists like him.


Voters were highly concerned about health care, according to preliminary exit polls on Tuesday, with more citing it as their top concern than the economy or any other issue — the first time in at least a decade that has happened.

A plurality of 41 percent identified health care as the issue most important to their vote, which Democrats made the centerpiece of their campaign in races throughout the country.

Asked which party would better address Americans with pre-existing conditions, 58 percent said Democrats versus 34 percent who said Republicans.

CNN’s exit polling also suggests that Democrats enjoyed a big edge on this issue:

Health care was front and center in the 2018 midterm elections, with Democrats accusing their GOP rivals of undermining Obamacare’s protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Nationally, voters clearly felt the Democrats would better defend those who are or have been sick. Some 58% said Democrats would better protect health care for those with pre-existing conditions, compared to 34% who said Republicans would.



Many Republicans clearly need to do a better job addressing health care in 2020, but the CNN polling suggests that winning over voters on this issue doesn’t mean Republicans have to embrace Democrats’ solutions. CNN adds:

Take Indiana, where Mike Braun defeated incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly. Hoosier State voters had equal confidence in Democrats and Republicans when it came to protecting those with pre-existing conditions.

Same thing happened in Missouri, where Josh Hawley bested incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill. Hawley is among the attorneys general who have filed a lawsuit in Texas District Court seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, including its protections.

For the GOP one key to turning the vaunted blue wave into a gentle azure current was the backlash against Democrats for their treatment of Brett Kavanaugh prior to his confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.


The Nashville Tennessean views it as the turning point in Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s victory over Democrat Phil Bredesen in the Tennessee Senate race:

For months, Bredesen was able to localize the campaign and remind voters of the centrist brand that made him a popular two-term governor.

But then came the contentious U.S. Supreme Court confirmation fight over Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which galvanized Republicans.

Aaron Blake at the Washington Post highlights two more losing Democrats in Senate races and notes that trying to hurt the Kavanaugh nomination was hurtful to their political careers:

One vote can be oversold, but it’s notable that Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) cast some of the most surprising votes against Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination — after voting for Neil M. Gorsuch — while Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) voted for Kavanaugh and did just fine in the Trumpiest state in the country.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) agrees. His office quotes him in a statement released today:

“What has been referred to as the ‘Kavanaugh Effect’ should actually be called ‘Kavanaugh’s Revenge.’

“Virtually all Senate Democrats running in Trump states who voted against Brett Kavanaugh were defeated. Their constituents held them responsible for being part of a despicable smear campaign orchestrated by the left...

“Liberal Democratic Senators and activists efforts to destroy Brett Kavanaugh ended up destroying Red State Democrats. Hopefully this resounding rejection of the Kavanaugh smear campaign by voters will make it less likely that this will occur again in the future...”

This column shares that hope. As for Justice Kavanaugh, he surely knows that judging well is the best revenge.