Now that the whole nasty Brett Kavanaugh confirmation thing is done, the question in its aftermath is how, or if, it affects midterm voting?
First blush suggests it will.
After all, media and much of the nation have obsessed over the process since early July when President Trump nominated Kavanaugh.
First there were polarizing questions about Kavanaugh's stance (hence possible votes) on abortion rights and executive privilege.
Then came a divisive, emotional he said/she said over alleged sexual assault. And suddenly the world was watching.
Monday night, Trump, "on behalf of the nation" apologized to Kavanaugh for the "terrible pain and suffering" he (Kavanaugh, not Trump) and his family "were forced to endure."
So, what now?
One narrative suggests the process further enraged Democrats, women and especially Democratic women against Republicans, adding fuel to an already-expected high-octane Democratic turnout.
This, the argument goes, would be retaliation for what many saw as GOP senators not listening to, not hearing, or not believing a woman, or two or three, accusing the now-associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of sexual assault and misconduct when he was in high school and/or college.
I'm not so sure. I mean about the argument.
No doubt there's anger. We've seen and heard the fury of women who suffered sexual assault without consequence to perpetrators. We've heard from women irate over a GOP that ran over anything in its way; then, brilliantly, used a woman – Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) – as its closer.
But a ramped-up anti-GOP rush come Nov. 6? Two things argue against it.
Democrats, women, especially Democratic women, already are there. If, on a scale of 1 to 10, you're at 10 in terms of voting D, how do you get to 11? And if you get to 11, does it make much difference?
Plus, with most of a month until Election Day, what are the odds the national political focus isn't pulled in multiple different directions between now and then?
(I'd note Trump's Access Hollywood tape came out a month before the 2016 election and caused little or no evident effect.)
As to claims from Trump and others that strident Democratic opposition to Kavanaugh, and public protest against him, amounts to, as Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said, "a great political gift," well, that, too, seems a stretch. Republicans won. Got the guy they wanted on the high court. Does gloating lead to voting?
I turn to national pundit Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia.
"Let me start with three little words: I don't know," he says. "It's impossible to say which party's emotions will endure to Election Day. Maybe both will. Maybe neither will."
He notes Republicans will use Kavanaugh in red states with Democratic Senate incumbents (such as North Dakota and Indiana) and Dems will use him in suburban congressional districts, "especially the ones where they have women nominees."
Makes sense. But, again, will such use much change things?
Robin Kolodny, who chairs Temple University's poli-sci department, says maybe a little but not a lot.
"In the next week or two, look at registration numbers and national political money," she says. "If you see bumps either way, or national GOP money showing up in certain [Pennsylvania] congressional districts, then you'll know something's changed."
Places to look for evidence, she says, include the Sixth and Seventh Districts just west and north of Philly, respectively. Both are newly redrawn open seats featuring female Democratic candidates (Chrissy Houlahan in the Sixth, Susan Wild in the Seventh) in races seen as likely or leaning D.
But nobody really knows what happens on Election Day. Whether polling's right. Whether a "blue wave" flows or ebbs.
And the Kavanaugh confirmation battle, above all else, just made our politics look so shabby. It made ordinary people seem inconsequential. It made pols involved seem solely set on political gain.