The “Kavanaugh Effect” is a term used to describe the increase in Republican enthusiasm right before the 2018 midterm elections, during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.

Photo of Brett Kavanaugh

Before October, the Democratic Party’s base was energized, but the Republicans seemed asleep. Democrats were the ones knocking doors and registering new voters. Republicans didn’t even seem to be campaigning. All of this changed around October.

In July, 78% of Democrats thought that the midterm elections were “very important”, but only 68% of Republicans. By October, it was 82% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans. Voters who were not enrolled with either party were also less interested in voting for a Democrat than they had been previously.

To Democrats, the Kavanaugh hearings showed how actively many Americans dismiss and disregard women who have been sexually assaulted. The new Supreme Court could very easily overturn Roe v. Wade, or effectively ban abortion. It’s a return to women being dependent on men for protection.

To Republicans, the Kavanaugh hearings showed a good man being wrongfully attacked by strangers who knew nothing about him. The outrageous thing is not being raped, but being accused of rape. The same thing could happen to any man, or anyone’s husband. Republicans who were previously uninterested in the midterms were now outraged and energized.

The end result was that while Democratic turnout was extremely high, as expected, so was Republican turnout. And that, for the majority of Americans, men like Brett Kavanaugh are the real victims when we talk about rape.