President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court offered a rare moment of unity across the Republican Party, pleasing conservatives and offering a measure of relief to establishment Republicans hoping to maintain their congressional majorities in November.
Assuming Democrats vote en bloc—which may or may not happen—Republicans can afford to lose just two votes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Accordingly, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, two of the chamber’s most moderate lawmakers, have dominated the spotlight in recent days. Securing their votes “has been the whole ballgame,” one GOP operative told me on Monday. Whether Trump would play, however, was somewhat of an open question: While the president had similarly pleased the GOP in his selection of Justice Neil Gorsuch last year, his unpredictability had some Republicans nevertheless holding their breath.