The Damage Dianne Feinstein Has Done To The National Democratic Party

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

“Lock her up,” shout the mobs at Trump rallies. Only it is no longer Hillary Clinton they want to lock up, now it is Sen. Dianne Feinstein, with whom they are furious over the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation.  But after November, it may be Democrats who are mad at Feinstein, because she may well have destroyed any chance of the Democrats winning control of the US Senate for a very long time.

How so?  Because the bitter partisan fight of Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court has energized the Trump-loving Republican base, and that is a majority of voters in a half dozen red states with endangered Democratic Senators up this fall.

A month ago, most of these red state Democrats seemed likely to survive on their political skills and popularity at home.  It also seemed possible the Democrats might gain two seats from the Republicans, and actually take control of the Senate.

Not anymore.  To quote long time political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writing in Roll Call, “The Democrats’ chances of netting at least two Senate seats always seemed like a long shot. But a month ago, the stars looked to be aligning for Democrats. Today, those stars tell a different story.”

The story they tell is that Republicans look now like they will hold all of their vulnerable seats thanks to energized GOP base voters.  In Arizona, Republican Rep. Martha McSally trailed her Democratic opponent all year, now she is ahead.  The same is true in Nevada, where endangered GOP Sen. Dean Heller was behind, now he too is ahead.  A popular former Democratic governor was ahead in Tennessee, now he is far behind.  And in Texas the darling of the Democratic donor class, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, is slipping farther behind the unloved and unlovable GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

But the Democrats are now in real danger in their own seats.  In ruby red North Dakota, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has fallen way behind and looks like a goner.  In 2012, Republicans nominated goofball right wingers in Missouri and Indiana, allowed Democratic Senators Claire McCaskill and Joe Donnelly to win.  Now both are running against strong GOP candidates and are no more than neck and neck with the trends against them.

Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester has been a survivor, but he is up against a strong Republican and running no better than even.  The same is true of Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida whose lead has shrunk to almost nothing in recent weeks.

The there is Sen. Joe Manchin West Virginia, the state where President Trump is the most popular.  He is the only one of these six senators to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.  He has been well ahead in recent polls but is also vulnerable to a big pro-Trump vote in his state.

If Democrats lose all or most of these six seats, they will ask who is to blame, and Sen. Feinstein will be at the top of the list.  Had she immediately turned over the letter accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct to the FIB, that agency would have added it to its background checks of Kavanaugh.  They would have found, as they did find, that there was no corroborating evidence.

Senators would have then voted Kavanaugh up or down based on his judicial record, and several red state Democrats probably would have voted for him to give themselves cover, as they did with Justice Neal Gorsuch last year.  There would have been no reason to anticipate a riled up Republican base – the Democrats are already poised for a big turnout and until the Kavanaugh fight there was much evidence of low Republican interest in the November election.

So the genie Feinstein let out of the bottle is likely to cost Democrats Senate seats year, but it will also have an impact on Democratic hopes to win control of the Senate in future cycles.  Their prospects for 2020 and not particularly good, given the Senators who are up.  The likelihood is that the owl like visage of GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell will speak from the Majority Leader’s desk for many years to come.

And the one thing McConnell is dedicated to is changing the judiciary.  He has already helped secure two conservative Supreme Court justices in the past two years.  So effective is McConnell that Senate Democrats have agreed to allow confirmation of 15 Trump judges later this month so their endangered incumbents can go home to campaign.

In 2019, Trump will nominate three new judges to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation’s last liberal judicial stronghold.  According to media reports, all three are conservatives from Southern California and all three are opposed by their home state senators, Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris. But with more Republican senators, McConnell can and will easily sweep aside the Democratic concerns and make sure the new conservative judges are confirmed.

Feintein’s party will pay a bitter price for her actions in dealing with the Kavanaugh accusations.  You have to wonder why there is any reason that Democrats would even want her re-elected.

Comment on this article


Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.