Democrats appear ready to force Republicans to invoke the nuclear option to appoint Neil Gorusch to the Supreme Court. Democrats have a list of grievances a mile long to justify their actions. Among them are GOP efforts to stymie Merrick Garland’s appointment to the Court, lack of trust in the GOP not invoking the nuclear option in the future and their base’s rage and fear at a Trump Presidency.
But, perhaps Democrats should have taken a look at the next few cycles Senate maps before they gave Republicans an excuse to implement majoritarian rule on EVERY court appointment going forward. Ending the filibuster on the Supreme Court would likely usher in a conservative majority on the court for a generation. If not longer!
Odds are no worse than 50/50 Donald Trump will get to make a second appointment to the court before the next Presidential election. Despite his sagging approval ratings it is likely he will still have a friendly Senate to support his choice. The two maps below should illustrate why.
Few Democrats can debate the Senate map looks abysmal for the party. They are defending 25 Senate seats to the Republicans nine and 10 of their Senators are in Trump states compared to a single Republican in Clinton territory. Trump even came within three points in Maine where Independent Angus King is running for reelection. More importantly, five Democratic Senators sit in states Trump won by 15+ points meaning even if Trump is unpopular the GOP Senate candidate still has a reasonable chance at victory.
For Democrats to even come close at ending the GOP majority in the Senate or ending it the party would need to hold every competitive seat and somehow make a ruby red state blue. Democrats have talked up Texas as an opportunity but the state has not elected a single, statewide Democrat since 1994.
The 2020 Senate map (see above) is not much better. Sure, Democrats have great shots in North Carolina and Colorado and a decent chance in Georgia but Iowa has been getting redder and looks less and less like a swing state. If Collins decided to run for reelection in Maine it is unlikely her moderate brand of politics would be overcome in a Democratic wave. In short, at best, Democrats are likely to win three seats and assuming they lose none they would gain the majority (assuming they somehow survive 2018 without any losses).
Democrats, being driven by an angry base, are making a short-sighted decision. Even if Trump’s unpopularity keeps the GOP’s majority in the Senate down a bare majority would be all that is needed in 2019 or 2020 to appoint a conservative Supreme Court justice. The Democratic base could feel happy they stuck to their guns. But, the very things they fear happening on the Court would likely become reality. All because they, and their party leadership, ignored the obvious political dynamic of the 2018 and 2020 Senate maps.