We’ve moved Senator Jeanne Shaheen from a no to a maybe with her recent comments about a desire to see an up-or-down vote. Mr. Gorsuch has been meeting with Democrats who had expressed such a position this week, including Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. That sit-down made headlines when he told the Senator he had felt “disheartened” by the President’s recent remarks about a judge who ruled unfavorably on his travel ban executive order. This morning, the President has tweeted out an attack the Senator, accusing him of making Gorsuch’s statements up.
Switching away from this current social media maelstrom before it swallows up the post, we want to urge caution about the “up or down” language nine Democratic Senators are now using. The Daily Caller has framed this as “falling in line” for a vote, meaning no filibuster. But the hearings are a long way off, the vote longer, and we want you to remember this line: “outside of the mainstream.” Several Democrats have already started using that exact phrase to describe Mr. Gorsuch. There’s nothing stopping any of the Senators, currently labeled as “maybes”, from studying the nominee and publicly stating something like this: “while I professed an early desire for an up-and-down vote, this nominee/the unchecked Trump White House is so extreme I have a duty to reject Mr. Gorsuch, joining most of my Democratic colleagues in doing so”.
Once we get firmer commitments, Mr. Gorsuch is out of the woods, but Senators, like people, freely change their minds.
Original post with explainer and updated chart follows:
We have placed the Senators in slightly different categories on this particular nomination than with our Cabinet estimates:
YES/Green indicates a Senator likely to invoke cloture on the nomination (not necessarily for the nominee, but enough for them to clear a filibuster)
Unknown/Yellow indicates that a Senator is genuinely open to invoking cloture. They may not support the nominee on final confirmation, but they will allow that up/down vote to happen.
NO/Red indicates a Senator is a likely no. A Senator marked as a “no” may have not actually declared this directly, but their statements make it pretty clear (“I have concerns with a nominee who [clearly in the mold of Scalia, holds views that are the polar opposite of my own]”) they have no intention of actually voting for this nominee.
As of right now, Gorsuch has 53 of the 60 votes he needs for cloture. We are paying close attention to the behavior, questions, and press releases from the Senators in gold. Democratic activists and voters will likely put pressure on them to oppose, pressures that, for some of them, may be countered by their upcoming elections or even their own personal convictions of the process.