Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) on Wednesday said Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle was "very helpful" to Republicans.
A reporter asked for observation on the "Kavanaugh effect," and McConnell did not mince words. He said Democrats helped Republicans win more seats in the Senate by their tactics to block Kavanaugh, which included suspending the presumption of innocence when he was accused of sexual assault.
"I think the Republican core voters in the states that were critical to us were highly offended by the questioning of the presumption of innocence and the tactics. I think it was like an adrenaline shot," McConnell said.
He admitted it looked like there might have been a drastic intensity gap between Democratic and Republican voters before the Kavanaugh fight got ugly.
"We were worried about lack of intensity on our side, and I think the Kavanaugh fight certainly provided that–it was extremely helpful," he said.
While it is unclear if Democratic Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.) will survive his race against Republican challenger Matt Rosendale, McConnell argued that at this point, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) is the only red-state Democrat to hold his seat in the 2018 midterms. Manchin was the only Democrat to vote for Kavanaugh.
"It is noteworthy that the one Democrat in a red state who survived [the midterms] voted for Kavanaugh: Joe Manchin," McConnell said.
McConnell has made the confirmation of judges the centerpiece of his agenda in the Senate, with a record number of judges being confirmed in the two years since President Donald Trump took office. The Kavanaugh confirmation was by far the most dramatic, with allegations of sexual assault and even gang rape coming out at the eleventh hour before he was confirmed. After Senate and FBI investigations, no evidence was found to corroborate the allegations and the Senate voted narrowly to confirm now-Justice Kavanaugh.