John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Voting for Scalia’s Replacement?

Posted on February 16, 2016

According to a Gallup poll, about a third of the American people have never heard of Antonin Scalia.

Will his death become a top issue for most voters in the Presidential campaign?

I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong.

I think the Supreme Court Jurist’s untimely demise is a big deal and filling his vacancy raises the stakes for the next election.

But I am more than a bit skeptical that most voters will vote that way.

What motivates people to come out and vote?

Some people feel a personal connection to the candidate. Likability is an important trait for a winning candidate. Sometimes, it’s a common bond, like religion or race.

But voters usually vote because they are angry or scared.

They are angry at the status quo or they are scared at what could happen to their personal security if somebody they dislike gets to the White House.

Voters usually don’t vote strategically. They don’t think about the balance of power in Congress or about the in-depth plans of a candidate or by geographical balance.

Ticket-splitters are getting more and more rare these days. When the South still had Southern White Democrats, ticket splitting was common. Southern voters would vote Republican for the White House and Democrat for the Congress.

But those days are over. Straight-ticket voting is now how it usually works.

So, if somebody is going to vote for Donald Trump, most likely they will vote for the Republican in Congress. If they vote against Trump, they will vote for the Democrat.

That’s why the RNC is panicked about a Trump campaign. He is doing well in the Republican primary, but when it comes to a general election, he is not doing as well. Fully 60 percent of general election voters have an unfavorable view of him.

That’s an astronomically high number. Nobody else is even close in the unfavorability department. Not even Hillary Clinton.

If Trump wins the nomination, I think you could probably predict that a Democrat (probably Hillary Clinton) will name the next Supreme Court Justice.

And if Hillary beats Trump in big numbers, I think you could also predict that Chuck Schumer (who is slated to be the next Majority Leader should the Democrats take back the Senate) will do everything he can to get her Supreme Court nominee through the Senate. I assume that if he had to, he will change the Senate Rules to make it a simple up or down vote, with no chance to filibuster.

That will give the liberal Democrats a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court and should Ruth Bader Ginsberg retire (which has been widely rumored for some time), Hillary would be able to name her replacement too.

Mitch McConnell has been widely criticized for saying that he wasn’t going to allow any Supreme Court nomination from President Obama come to the Senate floor this year.

McConnell likes to live in reality-based world, and his world-view, there is nobody that Mr. Obama will want that he could support.

That is probably true. But should it become obvious that Republicans are going to lose the White House, he might want to work with the President in coming up with a compromise candidate.

That way, he can protect Senate traditions and give Schumer less of a reason to run roughshod over the Senate Rules and perhaps make it more difficult for Hillary to get two for one.

Another option is for Republicans to nominate somebody who could beat Hillary and make this whole argument moot. That would be the far preferable path.

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