It was inevitable that the vast machine in place to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court would be well oiled by money from conservative megadonors. Politico reported today that spending by conservative groups like the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a non-profit that doesn’t have to disclose its donors and has worked hard to conceal their identities in the past, is already dwarfing the comparatively paltry amount spent by liberal groups trying to defeat Kavanaugh’s nomination.
According to Politico, pro-Kavanaugh conservatives “have run more than $7.5 million in television ads thus far compared with approximately $1.3 million from liberals in the fight over Kavanaugh’s confirmation.” The ads are targeting swing senators, like Democrats Heidi Heitkamp and Doug Jones, and Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. Some of these ads are available on YouTube, and they are pure shit, seemingly written to target people too dumb to tie their own shoes. This one targeting Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly claims Kavanaugh “treats everyone fairly,” keeping with the push to confirm Kavanuagh because he’s a nice bloke who carpools or whatever:
The site also reported that JCN is running ads specifically “at airports and on MSNBC,” presumably because they’re targeting the Democratic senators and their staffers to give the impression of a wider TV campaign, because who the fuck else watches MSNBC?
JCN’s spending will likely ramp up as the confirmation fight begins in the Senate, too: The group told Politico they would “meet or surpass” the $10 million they spent to confirm Neil Gorsuch. NARAL Pro-Choice America estimated conservative groups like the NRA and America First Policies have already pledged $30 million to confirm Kavanaugh. But Brian Fallon, the head of the leading anti-Kavanaugh group Demand Justice, told Politico the conservatives’ spending “will probably be closer to 6 or 7-to-1 instead of the 20-to-1 edge you saw on Gorsuch.” It is a testament to the deeply shit world we live in that this counts as good news.
Other groups on both sides are also spending on grassroots activism. According to the site, both the Koch network and Heritage Action will deploy phone-banking and other on-the-ground activism, and NARAL told the site it would direct the “vast majority” of its resources to organizing.
Both Demand Justice’s Fallon and NARAL President Ilyse Hogue pointed to the vast gap in enthusiasm for Kavanaugh’s nomination: No one is particularly stirred by him, and a CNN poll last week found he’s the most unpopular Supreme Court nominee since Robert Bork, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan, with just 37% approval. The cool trick that Republicans have played on our political system is protecting themselves from things like the massive unpopularity of almost all of their policies, including the signature achievement of this Congress, while simultaneously entrenching their political power. They did this with the help of cowardly Democrats, whose major tactic in stopping Republican disrespect for The Norms seems to be saying “Hey, that’s not fair.”
It likely won’t matter all that much that Kavanaugh is unpopular, since these red state Democratic senators’ constituents are extremely unlikely to punish them for voting against him—even if they tell pollsters that they want Kavanaugh on the court, that’s a vastly different matter than whether their senator’s confirmation vote will affect which lever they pull come November. These millions of dollars are intended to convince those senators that the opposite is true. The question is whether they’re dumb enough to believe it.