Will Enthusiasm Over Kavanaugh Battle Carry Over To Midterms?

Oct 9, 2018
Originally published on October 9, 2018 10:46 am
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And NPR's Tamara Keith has been listening to that conversation. She covers the White House for NPR. Hey there, Tam.


GREENE: Well, you were very involved in covering the 2016 campaign. It sounds like Mook and team Clinton still thinking about what they might have taken for granted and what - not wanting to repeat that in 2018.

KEITH: Yeah, and one thing that stood out to me is he talks about how Republicans may have done some damage for themselves among women, female voters, in the Kavanaugh fight. You know, the Clinton campaign and others thought that President Trump had - then-candidate Trump - had done a lot of damage with female voters with that "Access Hollywood" video that came out just about a year ago - just about two years ago.

GREENE: Right.

KEITH: But ultimately, white women voted for Donald Trump. They broke for Trump in the end. And what we've seen in a lot of our polling is that gender is important, but party is everything.

GREENE: Well, let's talk about President Trump for a moment because I know Kavanaugh, we heard him at the White House as he did the ceremonial swearing in, saying he wants to move past the bitterness. He's not feeling bitter as he takes on this new job. President Trump seems to be taking a less pleasant tone when he's out there campaigning about this.

KEITH: Yeah, well, Kavanaugh is going to be on the - is on the Supreme Court. President Trump is trying to win a midterm and trying to keep his party in power. And what they discovered is that Republican voters were fired up by the fight. And - and, you know, the emotion of happiness and contentment is not as strong as the emotion of anger and frustration and resentment. And President Trump and Republicans want to keep that feeling going, keep their voters upset and angry because they believe that will get them out to the polls and get them voting Republican.

GREENE: I mean, you know as well as I do we're living in a world where you never know when a - what seems like a big story is suddenly going to go away, and there's going to be the next big story. But any sense of whether this Kavanaugh fight is going to remain kind of in the talking points and agendas of both parties in this one month that we have left? Or are there other issues that are going to be coming up that voters are really going to be thinking about?

KEITH: There are absolutely other issues. In the end, it's hard to say whether issues will decide this or whether it will really just be a battle of enthusiasm and a fight over President Trump and and Trumpism. But one thing that keeps coming up that hasn't gotten a ton of attention is health care.

And that is an issue where you have Republicans coming in and saying, well, we don't want to take away your pre-existing conditions. They're affirmatively going out there and doing ads about pre-existing conditions because Democratic candidates have made it such an issue. And it's resonating with voters.

GREENE: NPR's Tamara Keith.

Tam, thanks a lot.

KEITH: You're welcome.


State regulators in Arkansas have banned the use of a weed killer that's popular not just there but across the country. This chemical often hurts other crops and wildlife. But many farmers in Arkansas are defying the ban, and the state's having trouble enforcing it. NPR's Dan Charles has the story.

DAN CHARLES, BYLINE: This year's confrontation actually started with a farming fiasco last year. The company Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer, rolled out a new way to kill weeds. It told farmers, we've created some special new varieties of soybeans and cotton. They can tolerate a weed killer called dicamba. So you can spray dicamba, and the crops will be fine. But your weeds will die. Terry Fuller is a member of the Arkansas State Plant Board, kind of the pesticide police.

TERRY FULLER: Honestly, I don't think anybody in the whole world dreamed that dicamba could create such an issue, bring so many farmers against farmers.

CHARLES: Dicamba didn't stay where it belonged. It drifted across the landscape. It injured millions of acres of regular crops. It was especially bad in Arkansas. Farmers who sprayed dicamba loved it, but Terry Fuller and the state plant board decided the collateral damage was unacceptable. I talked to him about it last year.


FULLER: Trespassing on your neighbor and your friend - that's not my definition of good for business.

CHARLES: So the plant board passed the most dramatic limits on dicamba in the whole country - no dicamba spraying during the growing season. This summer, I called Terry Fuller back to see how it was going. And he told me it was happening again - thousands of acres of crops damaged, also trees in people's yards.

This was not supposed to happen this year.

FULLER: Not supposed to happen this year - you're absolutely correct. It's just been a sad situation and, you know, really an unbelievable situation. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.