Both Democrats and Republicans are claiming huge fundraising spikes after the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle. According to a Tuesday report by Axios, the DCCC says it raised $4.38 million “from the end of September to Oct. 5 — the day it was clear Kavanaugh would be confirmed,” while the NRCC says it “saw a 418% increase in online donations in the first week of October compared to the first week of September.” ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising platform, says it raised $10 million on October 5, the day Susan Collins told us just how much she sucks.
Still, as Axios noted, Republicans are being a little more guarded about their fundraising totals by not releasing specific numbers. We’ll see whether they were telling the truth after the next FEC filing deadline on Oct. 15.
One of the big questions raised by the political media during the Kavanaugh confirmation battle was whether investigating him helped Republicans fuel the narrative that he was the real victim, or worse, the target of a complete hoax created by Chuck Schumer—a conspiracy theory that sitting U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton actually promoted. Fundraising isn’t a perfect proxy for voter enthusiasm, but it’s one marker. Without specific numbers, it’s hard to tell whether or not the competing enthusiasm on both sides ends up being a wash.
But it’s important when talking about this to note that just because both sides are fired up doesn’t mean both sides are equally justified in being fired up. It’s an instructive example of what many observers blithely call “partisanship” or “polarization,” the idea being that Both Sides are getting more extreme and entrenched. But look at the facts here.
On one side, you have Democrats enraged at a process where, as the Washington Post noted last week (emphasis theirs), a Supreme Court justice was “nominated by someone who lost the popular vote to earn his seat on the bench with support from senators representing less than half of the country while having his nomination opposed by a majority of the country.” The FBI investigation ordered to give cover to those senators was a sham. The entire process was rushed to ensure confirmation before Republicans potentially lose the Senate. And you have Kavanaugh’s female accusers left completely ignored, disparaged as part of a plot, and personally mocked by the president.
On the other side, you have Republicans enraged that a man was accused of anything at all, and that they had to even pretend to listen to these women. They’re still mad, despite the fact that they won. They’re mad that anyone even raised the idea that a man shouldn’t be able to get away with sexually assaulting someone just because he made sure there were no witnesses who would speak.
If the fundraising numbers bear out, and in a month’s time we find out whether the GOP base really was energized by this battle, analysts will talk about the “deep divide” in the country and retreat to Both Sides-ism. But don’t lose sight of the moral and factual grounding here. One party is energized by a travesty of justice. The other is energized because justice was almost served.