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Friday, September 28, 2018

What Happened In The Brett Kavanaugh Hearing | FiveThirtyEight


That’s A Wrap

Today’s roughly nine-hour hearing on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court is over, and I’m not sure we’ve seen anything quite like it in modern U.S. history. We’ll have more coverage of this story in the days ahead. For the moment at least, Republicans appear to be planning to bring Kavanaugh’s nomination up for a vote — first in the Judiciary Committee, then for the full Senate — in the very near future.

In the meantime, if you want to see how everything unfolded, just start at the bottom of this live blog and scroll up. I also asked our team to give their main thoughts on everything that transpired:

Nate: Well, Kavanaugh and the GOP really went with a three-pronged strategy on Thursday:

Show a lot of emotion and indignation;

Just openly lie — let’s call it what it is — in response to questions about your drinking habits;

Complain a lot about the process.

I’m not sure how No. 1 will play with swing voters — especially women swing voters — but the Republican base will like it, and Trump apparently liked it too.

No. 2 is potentially damaging if you’re actually interested in the truth of allegations or about Kavanaugh’s overall credibility, but maybe Republicans senators aren’t.

And No. 3 won’t be persuasive to swing voters at all, but I trust that the Republicans’ indignation about the process is at least partly sincere, so it might give wavering senators an excuse to vote for Kavanaugh — Ben Sasse certainly seemed willing to take that as an excuse, for instance.

So it was a damn-the-torpedoes approach. Between that and Ford’s very effective testimony — and the very ineffective questioning of her — I think today was a bad day for Republicans electorally (again, my position for a while now has been that they should pull the nomination if they’re concerned about the electoral effects) but maybe not so bad for Kavanaugh’s chances of confirmation. With all that said, I haven’t yet seen any reaction from Sens. Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski, and Jeff Flake really didn’t give off many tells, so there’s a lot to watch over the next 24 hours.

Amelia: For me, more than anything, today made the partisan nature of this nomination and confirmation process impossible to ignore. If Kavanaugh ends up on the Supreme Court after this, it will have profound, profound consequences for the way the court is perceived in the future, especially if the conservative majority begins to shift right on big-ticket issues.

Clare: My final thought is: What the hell did Flake’s words mean? That, I think, is crucial.

Chad: My takeaway from today: American politics do not have a good forum to make sense of allegations of sexual crimes, whether they be recent or decades-old. American culture likely doesn’t either.

Meena: Today was an emotional day for everyone. For Ford and Kavanaugh. For senators, And for political, conservative and feminist Twitter. I have no idea what will happen, but I’m not sure we accomplished much in what seemed like a really painful experience for all involved.

Meredith: It was a long day, and I don’t want to discount the courage it took for the parties to come before the committee, but I mostly agree with something Micah said earlier — this probably just served to further entrench partisan positions on this nomination. A more minor takeaway? I think Democrats in red states (such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin) can confidently vote “no,” so long as the GOP refuses the FBI investigation. So that’s something.

Nathaniel: Overall, I think what bubbles to the top from today was Ford’s powerful, emotional opening statement. In this age of social media, I think it’s going to be hard for swing senators, such as Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, to vote for a nominee who is the subject of such compelling video/testimony. I don’t think Kavanaugh rebutted it effectively in his half of the day — he did not come off nearly as likable, and I think that will matter more to swing voters than the “defiance” strategy he clearly chose.

Oliver: My final live-blog thoughts are twofold. First, if prediction markets or political Twitter conventional wisdom are any guide, we appear to have arrived more or less back where we started nine hours ago, at least in terms of the chances that Kavanaugh is confirmed. Second, in this difficult and circular path, the fundamental process of confirmation to the Supreme Court may now be forever changed. With a high-leverage midterm election on the horizon, and a sitting chief justice who values the legitimacy of the court above all, I’m not exactly sure where that leaves us. Good night."

What Happened In The Brett Kavanaugh Hearing | FiveThirtyEight

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