Though Collins is the candidate most directly endangered by a new fight over the balance of the court, the vacancy is likely to supercharge every competitive race, from liberal-leaning Colorado to swing state Georgia to evangelical-heavy South Carolina.
The vacancy could also alter the major issues debated in an election that has so far focused primarily on the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and race relations. Abortion rights and the fate of the Affordable Care Act – the Supreme Court is expected to hear a case on its constitutionality later this year – could move to the forefront.
However, the most immediate effect is likely to be a surge of campaign donations into what are already the most expensive set of Senate elections in history. The battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination energized Democratic small-dollar donors like few other political events: They sent $12 million to North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, who had raised relatively little from grassroots donors before her vote against the conservative nominee. (Heitkamp lost to GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer.)