Analysis: Are Republicans telling us something with this rush to replace RBG?

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You don’t need a Ph.D. in game theory to divine what the push by Mitch McConnell to rush a vote to confirm a new Supreme Court justice tells us as to Republicans think of Donald Trump’s chances are in November.

Looting comes to mind – grabbing what you can on your way out, hoping because so much else is going on around you that nobody will notice.

Thing is, people are still noticing. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll has 62 percent of Americans saying the candidate who wins on Nov. 3 should pick the replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away on Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer.

And though there is a split along party lines, it’s still 50-50 among Republicans.

This, interestingly, as the national polls had actually been tightening in the past couple of weeks, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s lead over Trump narrowing a bit, to a 6.5-point edge in the Real Clear Politics National Average as of this morning, down from a recent high of 8 points back on Sept. 11.

Also at play here is the battle for control of the Senate, which currently stands at a 53-47 majority for Republicans, but this cycle has Republicans having to defend 23 seats to 12 for Democrats, who, when you do the quick math, only need to gain an aggregate +4 to take back control of the chamber.

The latest Cook Political Report rendering of the 2020 race has Democrats solid or leaning in 11 of their 12, with only Alabama Sen. Doug Jones vulnerable, and has Democrats either with the edge or in toss-ups in races for seven of the 23 Republican-held seats, with three additional seats in the Lean Republican category.

The push from McConnell, then, isn’t occurring in a vacuum. Maine Sen. Susan Collins, one of the Republicans in a toss-up race, has already said she won’t vote on a replacement for Ginsburg ahead of the election, along with another Republican, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

It would only take one more GOP senator to join them to render the McConnell effort moot, from among the others vulnerable for re-election in November and elsewhere.

Considering all of this, then – that nearly two-thirds of Americans want the winner to make the pick, that pushing a vote could help flip the Senate to Democrats, that it might not mean a hill of beans anyway if just one more Republican senator jumps ship – why do this?

Back to game theory: they know something we don’t.

That the writing is on the wall.

That the White House and Senate are lost anyway, and that slim chance of a 6-3 conservative majority on the court is all they have left.

None of this makes sense else-wise.

Column by Chris Graham


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