WHIP COUNT: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Nominee to Be the Next SCOTUS Justice | NTK Network WHIP COUNT: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Nominee to Be the Next SCOTUS Justice

WHIP COUNT: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Nominee to Be the Next SCOTUS Justice

NTK Network takes an early look at who's likely to support Trump's next Supreme Court pick, who's likely to be opposed, and who will be on the fence.

By NTK Staff | 07.10.2018 @9:01am
WHIP COUNT: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Nominee to Be the Next SCOTUS Justice

President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court on Monday night.

Trump intends to work for his choice’s confirmation this fall, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has pledged consideration of Trump’s nominee before the midterm elections.

Democrats are digging in, with many coming out opposed in the minutes after Trump made his announcement around 9 p.m. eastern time on Monday.

One hundred senators will decide whether or not to confirm President Trump’s next pick. Here’s an early whip count.


Assumptions are dangerous in Washington, D.C., but of the 54 votes to confirm Neil Gorsuch in 2017, NTK Network assumes a majority (47) will be on board with Trump’s next pick – assuming it’s a pick from Trump’s prior list of potential nominees, and not a wild card.

Who are the seven we assume are not automatic ‘yes’ votes?

  • Three red-state Democrats who voted for Gorsuch, but will be on the hot seat this summer and fall: Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Joe Manchin (D-WV)
  • Two moderate Republicans who may break from a Trump nominee that represents a sharp break from Kennedy’s centrism: Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), primarily because his failing health means he may not even be able to make it to Washington for a vote; if he can make it, he seems a likely yes
  • And the Alabama seat, which once was occupied by Republican Luther Strange but is now occupied by a Democrat, Doug Jones

Add one to the new nominee’s total: Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who supported Gorsuch but did not vote due to his recovery from back surgery.


Of the 45 votes against Gorsuch in 2017, NTK Network assumes, again, a majority (42) will vote no on Trump’s next pick.

The three we assume are not automatic ‘no’ votes?

  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), widely seen as the most vulnerable Senate Democrat in the nation in 2018
  • Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who is liberal but is facing a tough reelection fight with Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) in 2018
  • Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who, like Donnelly, Heitkamp, and Manchin, has occasionally broken with his party ahead of his own tough reelection fight this year

The one new Democrat in the Senate since the Gorsuch vote, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), is also a moderate and should be considered a swing vote.


That leaves 10 votes – 10 percent of the U.S. Senate – up for grabs, depending on who Trump nominates and how the confirmation process goes.

Three are Republicans, and seven are Democrats. They are:

  • Republicans: Collins, Murkowski, McCain
  • Democrats: Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin, McCaskill, Nelson, Tester, Jones

With the new Senate rules (and Vice President Mike Pence to break ties), only 50 votes are needed to confirm a justice to the Supreme Court. The ‘yes’ side would only need to peel off two votes from this list, while the ‘no’ side would need near-unanimous opposition to Trump’s pick.

Keep up with NTK Network during the months-long confirmation fight. The above whip count is almost certain to change.

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