Did the Senate’s Supreme Court obstruction win the election for Trump?

Okay, maybe that’s a bit much.  But maybe not.  It surely helped.  Very nice post from Seth Masket:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a risk when he declared last February that the Senate would not consider any appointment by President Barack Obama to replace the recently deceased Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. McConnell risked making himself and his party look intransigent and dangerously irresponsible, blinded by hatred of Obama to the point of disabling a branch of government. He risked making voters angry at his party during an election year.

The risk paid off. Near as I can tell, Republicans paid no electoral penalty for this maneuver…

But there was a larger game being played here. McConnell’s move made the Supreme Court seat an issue for the presidential election. It motivated conservatives to stay on board with the Republican presidential nominee no matter who it was…

The risk in nominating Trump, of course, was that he’d alienate half his party through his bombastic behavior, toxic utterances, and unreliable issue stances.

The Supreme Court vacancy changed all that. It informed key constituencies, particularly evangelical Christians, that there was far more on the ballot than Trump. The balance of the Court, particularly on such issues as abortion, was in play. Abandon the nominee, and Hillary Clinton gets to pick the next one, two, or three justices. Stand by the nominee, no matter how repellent, and you get to. [emphasis mine]

In the end, I was absolutely surprised (and far from alone in my surprise) that Republicans ended up being almost as loyal to Trump as they were to Romney.  Was this all about the Supreme Court– of course not?  But it was surely a meaningful part of the equation.  Damn does it suck that McConnell acting so unscrupulously paid off so bigly.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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