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Political expert Charley Jacobs says Supreme Court nomination could impact voter turnout

Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 3:01 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - A local political expert said President Donald Trump’s plan to announce a Supreme Court Nominee this weekend could change the dynamic of voter turnout.

St. Norbert political science professor Charley Jacobs said voter turnout has to be considered by the Trump Administration when nominating a Supreme Court Justice this close to the election.

“I think it’s going to change the dynamic of turnout because you may see turnout increase in certain areas and decrease in others because of the way this unfolds,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said if Trump’s nomination is confirmed before November, he could lose part of his base at the polls if he pushes too hard, too fast.

“If I’m an Evangelical whose largest concern is placing someone on the court that might be able to support religious liberties, privacy and abortion rights, but I am not particularly fond of Donald Trump the person and the kind of personal behavior he exhibits, why do I go to the polls? I got what I wanted and I got what I wanted prior to the election. So he may actually lose part of his base,” said Jacobs.

If Trump decides to wait and loses the election, he risks not getting to pick the next Supreme Court Justice. However, Jacobs said Trump can then create an imperative for republicans and his base to show up at the polls.

“There’s a strategic choice to be made here. If he chooses to make the nomination now, it may actually drive the opponent’s base to the polls. So you might win the war in the sense or win the battle, which is getting the nominee onto the court. But, you may lose the Senate, you may lose the White House, and he may so damage the party brand that you can’t win again in the future,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said it’s a balancing act and the decision could have rippling effects, especially at the polls in November.

“They (republicans) see the shiny bauble in front of them, which is I get we get to make that appointment and we get to finally reshape the court in the way we envision. But, it may create such problems for the party and accrue such benefits to the democrats that they’re mired in a hole for a generation,” said Jacobs.

When asked about a potential nominee, Jacobs said he wouldn’t be surprised if President Trump nominates a younger justice. He said over the years, republicans have been very careful to pick younger justices because they can serve well into their 80s or 90s as it’s life-term seat.

If Trump’s nominee is not confirmed before the election, Jacobs said, “We can pause and wait until March or even April to have somebody on the court, whether it’s a Trump nomination or a Biden nomination, without doing long term damage to the nation.”

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