The Note: Kavanaugh confirmation scrambles political expectations

We now resume the regularly scheduled campaign. But nothing is quite the same.

October 08, 2018, 6:20 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

We now resume the regularly scheduled campaign. But nothing looks quite like it did a few weeks ago.

Brett Kavanaugh’s long, strange confirmation battle lasted long enough and took enough surprising turns for perceived political advantages to flip, and flip again.

They land now as a true unknown – Republicans having now delivered for voters who might now remember why they’re Republicans, and Democrats frustrated, and just maybe more motivated, by having fallen short.

It’s dizzying enough for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to have offered an unusual bit of thanks.

“I want to thank the mob,” he told The Washington Post, “because they’ve done the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing our base.”

McConnell called it “a great political gift for us.” It didn’t always look that way – and it’s an open question whether it can keep giving for another month.

PHOTO: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 27, 2018.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 27, 2018.
APAndrew Harnik/Pool/AP, FILE

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Monday is Columbus Day, often instead celebrated as Indigenous Peoples' Day around the country and the world.

Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders make up slightly more than two percent of the country's population, but their potential political power may be much greater in key states and crucial races this year.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was lobbied hard by native people from her state before ultimately breaking with her party and voting against the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In Alaska, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders make up over 16 percent of the population, according to the Census Bureau.

In Arizona, a state with a closely-watched open Senate seat, those groups of voters make up around 5.6 percent of the state's population.

In New Mexico, a state with a competitive Senate race and tight governor's race, they represent nearly 11 percent.

Restrictive and complicated voter ID laws have contributed to voter suppression in native communities, something Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, has brought up and fought against.

Energy and land issues have energized native voters and tribes in her state too this year.

But it's not just voters, it's candidates too.

Astonishingly, in our nation's 242 year history, we have not had one native governor or one female Native American member of Congress.

But from Idaho, to New Mexico to Kansas, there are multiple candidates poised to change that and make history this fall.

PHOTO: Demonstrators gather outside the Senate office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 4, 2018.
Demonstrators gather outside the Senate office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 4, 2018. Murkowski was the lone Republican to vote against advancing Kavanaugh's nomination on Friday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP, FILE

The TIP with John Verhovek

We're less than 30 days out from the midterms, and Donald Trump is returning to a familiar and critically important place Monday afternoon, the state of Florida.

While the visit is not an official campaign event, Trump's speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual convention comes as GOP Senate hopeful Gov. Rick Scott, who is slated to attend the event even as he is now tending to an approaching storm, still lags slightly behind Sen. Bill Nelson in what has been an epically expensive battle in the Sunshine State.

In contrast to his tepid embrace of Trump early in the campaign, Governor Scott has tempered his criticism of the president in recent weeks, and used the saga surrounding the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as a way to continuously rail against Nelson, calling it a "complete circus."

Scott has spent nearly $28 million in his bid to unseat Nelson, and outside groups on both sides of the aisle have spent northwards of $30 million, in what FiveThirtyEight rates as the sixth most likely race to determine control of the U.S. Senate.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump shakes hands with Florida Gov. Rick Scott during the 2018 White House business session with state governors at the White House, Feb. 26, 2018.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Florida Gov. Rick Scott during the 2018 White House business session with state governors at the White House, Feb. 26, 2018.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images, FILE

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Monday morning’s episode features ABC News political director Rick Klein and ABC News political analyst Cokie Roberts, who discuss the lasting effects the Kavanaugh confirmation may have on the nomination process and the midterm elections. https://bit.ly/2Ohkpz8

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • The president delivers a speech at 1:35 p.m. at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual convention in Orlando, Florida. At 7 p.m., the president participates in the swearing-in ceremony of his embattled Supreme Court nominee and soon-to-be Justice Kavanaugh.
  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., at 4 p.m. on Monday. The theme of his remarks is "Better Off Now." Ryan, who has helped fundraise around $100 million for the Congressional Leadership Fund ahead of the midterms, has remained quiet even as he nears his last month in office.
  • California gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Gavin Newsom, current lieutenant governor of the state, and Republican John Cox, a real estate investor, face off for their first and only debate of the election cycle -- and it's not quite a debate. Billed as a "forum," it will be more of a conversation with a moderator. The debate airs live on San Francisco's public radio station KQED at 10 a.m. local time, or 1 p.m. E.D.T.
  • In Indiana, a more traditional debate takes place between the three Senate candidates, Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly, Republican candidate Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton. Braun, a businessman who beat out two House representatives in one of the country's most expensive primaries this year, will likely go after Donnelly for voting no on Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat from New York, travels to Georgia on Monday to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and other Democrats. Abrams, the first black woman in the U.S. to be a major party's nominee for governor, faces Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who's endorsed by Trump, in the upcoming election.
  • ABC's "The View" welcomes co-host Meghan McCain back to the table after taking personal time off since the passing of her father, Sen. John McCain.
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    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights political analysis of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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