The Note: Supreme Court vacancy crystallizes partisan stakes

The presidential race may have been recharged rather than reset.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's tempting, in the wake of yet another earth-shattering development, to think everything about the race has been upended.

But it might just be that the race is recharged rather than reset.

Trump will nominate a replacement this week and Senate Republicans will seek to confirm her this year, perhaps in the lame-duck session of Congress. There was never really any real doubt about it, not in the era of Trump.

With the possible exceptions of Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who broke with their party to call on confirmation to wait until after the election, the fast action being promised will tether GOP lawmakers on the ballot this year, like the senator from Maine, even more tightly to Trump.

On the other side, Democrats' press to keep the seat open is being driven by potential consequences on health care, abortion rights and election law in advance of hotly contested voting.

Even before a nomination is offered, talk has begun of radical moves next year if Democrats take control of the White House and Senate -- including expanding the number of justices, eliminating the Senate filibuster and even adding new states. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned on ABC's "This Week" of "arrows in our quiver" that could delay a confirmation vote.

Biden is seeking, in his words, to "deescalate" the conversation, imploring Senate Republicans on Sunday to "follow your conscience" and keep the Ginsburg seat open pending the election results.

He also noted that voting is already well underway. Somehow, in this year that's had everything, the stakes have again been raised for all involved.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Despite Joe Biden’s solid effort, it looks like it will largely be a base election after all. The passing of Justice Ginsburg has the potential to polarize our politics even more and even voters unsure about their own parties could have a hard time escaping from the gravitational pull to the corners.

It’s a fact that could help some of the half dozen Democratic Senate challengers in highly competitive races hoping to flip the Senate. It’s a reality, though, that could easily hurt others.

Energized base voters bring money, yard signs and volunteers. The renewed spotlight on the Senate and its competitive races already led to a wave of cash from small-dollar Democratic donations over the weekend.

Vulnerable Republicans looking to focus, ever so slightly, on state issues in the final stretch of the campaign, will be tied up, pressed on and labeled in Washington fights as Capitol Hill hurls toward likely confirmation hearings.

The surge could be good for candidates like Mark Kelly in Arizona or John Hickenlooper in Colorado, who are already widely known and generally popular in their respective states.

Kelly has the added benefit of telling voters he perhaps could be seated right away since the race there is a special election. Should he win, he could maybe make it slightly harder for Republicans to ram through a vote in the lame-duck session.

Of course, on the flip side, sitting Republican senators will get a lot of free airtime and, so far, it looks like more GOP incumbents are calculating that their best move is to stand even closer to the party and fight to deliver Trump a lifetime appointment of a conservative new justice.

Someone like Sen. Lindsey Graham might have to eat his own words from four years ago, but he also gets a front-and-center look at the action chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The irony is that Democrats meticulously picked someone for the top of the ticket they thought could best reach across the aisle and win over disgruntled Republicans. Folks like Cal Cunningham in North Carolina and Theresa Greenfield in Iowa hope to benefit from Biden’s appeal. The question now is whether those voters who are willing to cross over for Biden will be as likely to stick with a Democratic candidate for Senate with the Supreme Court fight now top of mind.

The TIP with Meg Cunningham

Following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and President Trump's pledge to fill her seat before the election, Democrats across the country mobilized, signaling their disapproval and breaking fundraising records..

ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising machine, announced Sunday morning they raised more than $100 million since Friday night from at least 1.5 million individual contributions. On Saturday, they broke a single-day record, raking in $70.6 million and breaking single-hour fundraising numbers.

Crooked Media, the Democratic political group, announced Sunday evening they'd raised over $20 million for their "Get Mitch or Die Trying Fund," which is dedicated to turning the Senate blue.

Republicans haven't released their numbers from the weekend so far, but President Trump countered the Democrat's astonishing number with a pitch to voters to buy a t-shirt with a graphic saying "Fill That Seat." Arizona Sen. Martha McSally and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham made fundraising pitches to voters as the debate intensified over whether or not the Senate should take up a vote on another Trump appointee.


As President Donald Trump continues to tout the progress of the coronavirus vaccine development, going so far this week as to promise delivery to everyone in the U.S. by the spring, a majority of Americans report having no confidence at all in him to confirm the safety of a potential inoculation, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday. Fewer than 1 in 10 -- 9% -- Americans have a great deal of confidence in Trump to confirm the vaccine's effectiveness, with another 18% reporting only a "good amount" of confidence. In contrast, 69% don't have confidence in the president vouching for a vaccine, with 16% saying "not so much" and 53% saying "none at all."


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning's special edition of 'Start Here' remembers Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and assesses the wide-ranging implications of her death. A roundtable of ABC News experts weighs in on what the loss of Ginsberg means for the Supreme Court and delves into the scenarios of filling her seat. A political strategist takes a cold, hard look at the electoral possibilities and whether this throws everything we thought we knew about 2020 out the window. Plus, a director of the documentary "RBG" describes the moments that shaped Ginsburg's legacy.

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast. In this emergency installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses the implications of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death and what that might mean for the election and the future of the court.


  • President Donald Trump will deliver remarks at a Dayton, Ohio, campaign event on Fighting for the American Worker at 5 p.m., then speak at a Great American Comeback event in Swanton, Ohio, at 7 p.m.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden travels to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to deliver remarks at 3:15 p.m.
  • Kamala Harris attends a virtual Biden for President finance event.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a press event at the State Department at 11 a.m.
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