With President Trump preparing to announce his Supreme Court pick tonight at 9 pm, it appears restive social conservatives are making some headway in their last-minute push to dissuade the president from going with the purported frontrunner, US circuit judge Brett Kavanaugh. However, as Axios pointed out, the push to nominate a deeply conservative justice could be scuttled by moderate Republican senators, who could easily sink a nomination that they don't support.
As Axios explains, "Republicans have a narrower margin for error than they did when the Senate confirmed Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch by a vote of 54-45 in April 207."
Thanks to Doug Jones, the Democrat who defeated Roy Moore to win Attorney General Jeff Sessions' former Senate seat late last year, Trump will likely need the unanimous support of the entire Republican caucus if Sen. John McCain, who has been away from Washington since December as he battles brain cancer, doesn't show up to vote.
Assuming McCain misses the vote (which is widely expected) Republicans will be left with a 50-49 margin (factoring in the fact that two independents in the Senate typically caucus with the Democrats). That means either Susan Collins of Maine or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska could end up being the swing vote. Both have hinted that they might balk at a nominee who would vote to overturn Roe. v. Wade.
According to the Wall Street Journal, several of the president's key confidants - including Fox host Sean Hannity - are pushing for Amy Coney Barrett, who clerked for deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, or Thomas Hardiman. Several people close to Trump said the final decision could be made just hours before the 9 pm ET announcement. "It's a jump ball," one anonymous official told WSJ.
Doubts that Kavanaugh will be Trump's pick are beginning to fester, even among the "smart money". While he has maintained his frontrunner status on online betting markets like PredictIt, the odds have moved lower.