Republicans’ hopes in the upcoming US midterm elections have been boosted by Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.
A little more than a month away from the critical ballots that could see the party lose control of the House of Representatives, a new poll finds the Democrats’ overall lead has dwindled and they are no longer more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans.
The NewsHour/Marist poll for NPR/PBS found a 10-point lead enjoyed by the Democrats in July has withered to just two points, within the margin of error.
Republican senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, a vocal supporter of Mr Kavanaugh during his protracted confirmation, says they have their opponents to thank.
“Our base is fired up. We finally discovered the one thing that would fire up the Republican base, and we didn’t think of it. The other side did it,” he told reporters after the swearing-in ceremony at the White House.
Marist director Lee Miringoff, said: “The result of the hearings, at least in the short run, is the Republican base was awakened.”
Professor Christine Blasey Ford, who gave evidence to senators that Mr Kavanaugh, then aged 17, sexually assaulted her when she was aged 15 in Maryland in 1982, has been unable to return home because of “unending death threats”, according to her lawyer.
At least two other women accused the judge of sexual misconduct when he was in high school and college.
He categorically denies all the allegations.
A week-long FBI investigation into the accusations found no evidence of misconduct on Mr Kavanaugh’s part, prompting Donald Trump to declare – incorrectly – on Monday that his nominee had been “proven innocent”.
Democrats need to win 23 seats to take back control of the House, one half of Congress, but the poll finds enthusiasm for voting among Democrats and Republicans is now equal.
The urge to vote Democrat is lower, however, among key groups such as under-30s, Latinos and independents than among Democrats as a whole.
If those groups stay home in large numbers, the party’s chances will be harmed.
A record number of women, Muslims and LGBTQ candidates are running for office next month.
For the first time, white men are outnumbered by women and minorities on the Democrat ticket in House races.
The November elections could see the first black woman serve as governor, the first Native American woman in Congress and the first openly bisexual senator, among other firsts.
Democrats are hoping women candidates will form a “pink wave” to take back the lower chamber.