(Author’s Note: This is the third in a series of political articles for CommPro.biz that I’ll be writing leading up to Election Day. It’s one that was not on my “to do” list. But because of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court will be an important issue until after the 59th president is sworn in on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, FYI – My first job with a PR firm was at a political one, where I worked on local, state and presidential elections.
The big news among the political pundits since Justice Ginsberg’s death was, not surprisingly, who and when will replace her and how will it affect the election.
Here’s my “two sense.”
- The Supreme Court has always been an important issue for many Republicans; less so for Democratic voters who have broader visions of what’s best for America.
The unanswered question is will the Supreme Court vacancy now change the outcome of the election?
Don’t believe what the pundits say about the issue.
The pundits will say that filling the vacancy at the court will attract GOP voters who were hesitant about voting for Trump. They will certainly come home and support him on Election Day, the pundits will say. But that’s not surprising. History shows that even disgruntled Republican voters always eventually vote the GOP line on the day that it matters, regardless of the GOP candidate. Disgruntled Democratic voters stay home. Thus, I don’t believe that Trump’s “vote Supreme Court” message will be enough to attract a substantial amount of GOP voters. (But his law and order message might attract both undecided Republicans and independents voters.)
Even though former veep Biden has had a consistent lead in the polls,
there are many ultra-liberal Democrats who would rather see a Biden defeat than have who they label a “moderate” win. Their reasoning is that only by showing that “moderates” can no long win, will the Democratic Party nominate a candidate more along the lines of Sens. Sanders or Warren in the future. This is not my pipe dream. In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton was defeated mainly because of two reasons: 1)Many Black voters stayed home because there wasn’t a Black on the ticket, and 2) many Sander’s supporters stayed home because they believed Ms. Clinton wasn’t far-left enough.
But there is one vital difference between 2016 and 2020. It is the mishandling of the coronavirus by President Trump, augmented by the increasing death rate caused by it that will continue each day throughout this year’s election campaign. (As I write this the number of deaths in the U.S. is approaching 200,000, not counting those who died at home.)
More “two sense.”
- I believe that the coronavirus will continue to be the prime issue of the campaign and that the Supreme Court is not on the minds of most voters who are facing problems of their own caused by the coronavirus.
- I also believe that the Supreme Court issue will activate some left-wing Democratic voters, who otherwise might have decided to sit this one out.
I concede that Trump will gain some new support from voters who are Supreme Court fanatics. But most voters who feel that the Supreme Court is the most important issue of this election already were in the Trump camp. So there’s not much more he can glean from that copse.
Conversely, the Supreme Court will probably engage more liberal Democratic voters to not sit this one out. Since there are more Democratic voters than Republican ones, I believe that if the Supreme Court dominates the remainder of the campaign, it will benefit Biden more than Trump.
More “two sense.”
- The Supreme Court is not a new issue for the president to campaign on. On Wednesday, September 9, Trump announced his list of potential Supreme Court nominees.
- But for Biden, the situation provides an additional new facet to add to his agenda, providing him with enough topics to attract voters of various opinions.
However, I still believe that the main issue for the remaining weeks of the campaign will be the coronavirus, and that’s a plus topic for the former vice-president.
More “two sense.”
- So will the Supreme Court vacancy become an issue to change the outcome of the election? Not in my opinion. But it certainly will generate more dooms day talk about the future of America among some activists along with Republican and Democratic politicians from the “sky is falling” wings of their parties. (But benefiting the most will be the drivel-rousing right wing pundits who now have a new topic with which to incite people.)
- But what if Trump gets another chance to appoint a new justice before the new president is inaugurated, which is a possibility? That will also work to the advantage of Biden because it will attract more voters, especially younger ones who normally don’t vote and who feel that it will take a Democratic president to counter an extremely conservative Supreme Court. (Remember: Recent elections show that the younger the voter, the more likely they are to vote Democratic. The trick is how to get them to vote; the divisive actions of Trump might provide the answer.)
More “two sense.”
- You can bet your life’s savings, and be a sure winner, that the president will try to change the media’s coverage from his coronavirus handling failure to the Supreme Court. (He always does attempt to change the subject when he doesn’t like what is being written about and discussed.)
- And you can be assured of winning because, despite what some TV pundits wrongly have been saying for almost four years, the president never gets the media to change the subject, because there is always enough room for more than one story to be covered at a time. (If you believe what pundits say you’re a “seer-sucker,” and I don’t mean a certain type of fabric)
Final “two sense.”
- If the Republicans seat a new conservative justice prior to presidential inauguration day, which is likely, the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade will be in extreme danger of being ruled unconstitutional
- But, and it’s a Big But, if the above scenario plays out it will play to the Democratic advantage in the 2022 and 2024 elections, and probably longer, as more woman feel abused and abandoned by the GOP, and people with health conditions find their safety nets abolished. Thus the GOP winning today is likely to be a Pyrrhic victory.
As I write this on September 20, thus far three GOP senators have said that they will oppose a vote for a new justice before the election — Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who expressed their opinions recently, and Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, who said so prior to Justice Ginsburg’s death. Based on past performances, the only one who I have faith in keeping her word is Sen. Murkowski. South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, who might be the biggest hypocrite in the Senate, has said that he understands where Trump is coming from and will support the president’s new replacement nominee, despite a 2016 video of of him saying the Supreme Court should never be filled in an election year, when arguing against President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, who never even was granted a Senate hearing.
Unlike the Republicans, because the Democratic Party is so much more diverse, the Democrats will have to work hard to keep their various facets from imploding and handing the election to Trump, as they did in 2016.
In 1935, the famous humorist Will Rogers was quoted as saying, “I am not a member of any organized political party — I am a Democrat.” It was true then; it’s true now. The Supreme Court issue might be the adhesive to hold the Democrats together.
Conclusion: The Supreme Court is an important election issue. But so are the ever increasing number of Americans who have died because of the mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, more than in any other country in the world. Add to that the threat that a new justice will almost certainly ensure that the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade will be ruled unconstitutional — advantage Democrats.
About the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.