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Key GOP senators react to Kavanaugh accusation

CNN talks to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to get their reaction to the accusations of alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Posted: Sep 18, 2018 5:17 AM
Updated: Sep 18, 2018 5:17 AM

For Republicans, this was supposed to be a done deal. Now, because of a decades-old allegation of sexual assault, Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination is very much in flux.

But that's not all that's at stake.

The Republican Party is suddenly facing a tough map to retain control not only of the House, but also, increasingly, the Senate.

Women are the reason.

The GOP, led by President Donald Trump, who has faced allegations of sexual misconduct, doesn't speak the language of #MeToo.

Democrats, who tried to shed the Bill Clinton anvil and banished Sen. Al Franken, do. So does the increasingly critical swing-voting bloc of white, college-educated women.

That means the specter of next Monday's public hearing featuring Kavanaugh and his accuser, professor Christine Blasey Ford, answering questions from senators of both parties trying to score political points likely has very little immediate political upside for Republicans.

Women were always important to the nomination

From the beginning of his nomination process, well before Ford's accusation was made public, Kavanaugh knew how important women were to his fate, so he courted them.

He mentioned his wife, the teenage girls he coaches and his mother, who had a trailblazing law career, inspiring her son. The implicit (and simplistic) suggestion by Kavanaugh was that as a man who had a successful mom and two daughters, he would be fair to women from the bench.

The next phase will again revolve around women -- their testimony, their questioning and, ultimately, their votes. All of this will happen against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, which has seen men ousted from Congress, Hollywood studios and anchor chairs. It is a movement that has galvanized women to run in record numbers and move away from the GOP, complicating its favorable Senate map.

In Alabama, Doug Jones won women 57% to 41%, a margin largely powered by African-American women but also bolstered by white female college graduates, who gave him 45% of their votes.

Other polls show a similar dynamic possibly playing out in November: CNN's most recent generic ballot shows Democrats virtually tied among men, tied among white voters and winning women 59% to 36%. In two red states, the numbers reinforce the power of female voters in a way that should make Republicans nervous.

In Arizona, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema leads Republican Rep. Martha McSally among women, 57% to 35% (Hillary Clinton won women in Arizona 49% to 45%), according to a new CNN poll. And in Tennessee, Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn trails Democrat Phil Bredesen 58% to 37% among women.

Sensing an opportunity, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee blasted out an email with the subject line, "50 days to help these women flip the Senate," a few hours after the Kavanaugh news broke.

The optics

In short, #MeToo isn't a motivating factor for the GOP. It is highly motivating for Democrats, who see a broad coalition of women as part of their party's identity and strength.

Imagine Monday's public hearing, where Ford will be questioned by a panel of all-male GOP senators and a much more diverse panel of Democratic senators.

It won't be a good look. And, at least for GOPers, it will be reminiscent of 1991's Clarence Thomas hearings, where an entirely male panel questioned Anita Hill about her allegations of sexual harassment against Thomas, who won confirmation by a narrow margin. The hearings reverberated politically, angering women and powering them to run.

That dynamic is already at work for the midterms. The hearings will only intensify it.

During his opening statement for his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh recalled his mother practicing her cases at the dinner table.

"Her trademark line was: 'Use your common sense. What rings true? What rings false?' " he recalled.

These will be the very questions senators will have to ask themselves. And voters -- particularly female voters -- all around the country will be asking as well.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19560229
Hinds18674385
Harrison16512276
Rankin12595262
Jackson12451217
Lee9663160
Madison9400195
Jones7891145
Forrest7140136
Lauderdale6784225
Lowndes6008137
Lamar584480
Lafayette5707113
Washington5159128
Bolivar4594120
Oktibbeha439991
Panola426892
Pearl River4116128
Warren4114113
Pontotoc407368
Marshall399492
Monroe3980126
Union392873
Neshoba3767166
Lincoln3464100
Hancock339973
Leflore3358118
Sunflower317185
Tate300874
Pike298393
Scott292567
Alcorn290360
Itawamba288871
Yazoo283862
Tippah275665
Copiah274557
Coahoma272766
Simpson271778
Prentiss268658
Leake251770
Wayne251340
Marion250778
Covington247878
Grenada245876
Adams233277
George230645
Newton224751
Winston220275
Jasper211844
Tishomingo211765
Attala206269
Chickasaw200650
Holmes181670
Clay178149
Stone171429
Tallahatchie169839
Clarke168671
Calhoun156428
Smith151831
Yalobusha142936
Greene126833
Walthall123540
Noxubee122729
Perry121434
Montgomery121237
Lawrence119321
Carroll117623
Amite110832
Webster109929
Jefferson Davis100531
Tunica98623
Claiborne97729
Benton93124
Humphreys91626
Kemper89522
Quitman77014
Franklin75519
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61427
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491110

Reported Deaths: 9831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson706291356
Mobile35894721
Madison32255442
Tuscaloosa23996409
Montgomery22462494
Shelby21820215
Baldwin19670274
Lee14900150
Morgan13599249
Calhoun13175285
Etowah13143319
Marshall11226206
Houston10048259
Elmore9337183
Limestone9335134
Cullman8869179
St. Clair8783220
Lauderdale8581210
DeKalb8429174
Talladega7481163
Walker6504251
Jackson6477102
Autauga620389
Blount6086125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5230102
Dale4621106
Russell401831
Franklin397876
Covington3956106
Chilton384298
Escambia377172
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke342949
Dallas3397141
Chambers3392108
Pike293071
Lawrence281384
Marion280894
Winston246166
Bibb244260
Geneva238670
Marengo233354
Pickens223954
Barbour209951
Hale208868
Fayette199756
Butler195165
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe165938
Randolph163140
Washington156634
Crenshaw143554
Clay143354
Macon140943
Cleburne136839
Lamar131732
Lowndes130648
Wilcox120825
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98431
Coosa87823
Greene87032
Choctaw54823
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