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Trump likely to win whether or not Kavanaugh is confirmed

• Reuters

If Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate in a vote planned on Saturday, Trump will have succeeded in placing his second justice on the top U.S. court and fulfilled his pledge to solidify its conservative majority.

Even if Kavanaugh is rejected, the battle to save his nomination in the face of sexual misconduct allegations has jolted a slumbering Republican base to life just ahead of the Nov. 6 elections, political strategists and new polls suggest.

"This has done more to wake up complacent Republican voters than anything I have seen," said Robert Cahaly, a pollster and senior strategist at The Trafalgar Group, a Republican-leaning consulting and polling firm.

Trump's pugnacious style was well suited to the messy drama, and his decision to stick by Kavanaugh, mock the woman who accused the nominee of sexual assault and use the controversy to fire up supporters could help Republicans in key Senate races in conservative states - even if it turns off independents and women voters in suburban House of Representatives districts that were already trending away from Republicans.

Several recent polls show that Republican enthusiasm about voting, which had lagged behind Democrats, jumped after the dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week in which Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 1982 and Kavanaugh angrily denied her accusation and sexual misconduct allegations by two other women.

The shift has bolstered Republican hopes of saving their Senate majority in the Nov. 6 elections. Democrats must gain two Senate seats and 23 House seats to claim majorities in each chamber, enabling them to block Trump's agenda and investigate his administration.

Fueled by resistance to Trump, polls have found Democrats were far more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans for most of the year. But a new NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll showed the Democratic advantage in voter enthusiasm slipping to only 2 points this week from 10 points in July.

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