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CHICAGO â€”Â With less than four weeks to go before the midterm elections, thousands of activists descended upon Chicago and Massachusetts Saturday to urge voters â€” particularly women â€” to head to the polls and express their anger about the GOP-led Senateâ€™s confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The demonstrations dubbed â€œMarch to the Pollsâ€ are follow-ups to the Womenâ€™s March movement sparked by President Donald Trumpâ€™s election. Those marches drew hundreds of thousands to rallies in every state and more than 30 countries to denounce the administration.
Planners in Massachusetts have called on women and allies to take to the streets at a time of their choosing Saturday and hold up handmade signs that express their concerns about issues impacting women.
Meanwhile, crowds started forming early Saturday in downtown Chicago with several candidates setting up booths toÂ pitch their platforms and recruit volunteers.
One candidate, Jaâ€™Mal Green, who is running in Februaryâ€™s non-partisan mayoral election in Chicago, even set up a punching bag with a photo of KavanaughÂ on it. The left-leaning crowd was invited to use the bag to release their frustration.
Jane Christie, 63, made the 90-mile drive from nearby Iroqouis County, Illinois to be part of the march.
Christie said she was frustrated by the Kavanaugh confirmation process and that it brought up ugly memories of being harassed by boys and teachers during her high school days.
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This time, organizers for the rallies â€” the first of several that are planned for around the country in the coming weeks â€” said they want to use the moment to get women and their allies to the polls and bolsterÂ get-out-the-vote efforts before the midterms.
The Senateâ€™s vote this month to narrowly confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after contentious hearings is energizing women to head to the polls, march organizers say. Kavanaugh was confirmed after facing allegations from Christine Blasey Ford that heÂ sexually assaulted her at a house party when both were teens. The justice has denied the allegations.
â€œKavanaughâ€™s appointment to the Supreme Court really underscored the tangible effects of electing people that donâ€™t align with your values and ethical viewpoints,” saidÂ Claire Delaney Shingler, executive director of Women’s March Chicago.Â “People are looking backwards from (the Kavanaugh confirmation) and saying had the November 2016 election had a different outcome, this wouldnâ€™t be happening.”
Women by a 63 percent to 33 percent margin say they are more likely to vote for the Democratic congressional candidate in their district, rather than the Republican, according to a CNN poll published this week. Men by five percentage points, 50 percent to 45 percent, said they were more likely to vote for the Republican candidates on their ballots, the poll found.Â
Republicans, however, say that Kavanaugh was unfairlyÂ treated by Democrats. AngerÂ over the confirmation fightÂ is energizing voters on the right to head to the ballot box. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP officials predict that the Kavanaugh fightÂ will help the GOP gain seats in the Senate and perhaps head off a â€œBlue Waveâ€ in the House.
The polarizing battle over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has ended, but voter repercussions could be coming soon.
Some polling suggests that road has become more difficult for Democrats in the Senate.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, who opposed Kavanaughâ€™s nomination is trailing her Republican challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer, 53 percent to 41 percent, according to a recent Fox News poll. Thirty-four percent of likely North Dakota voters surveyed before the Senate voted to confirmÂ KavanaughÂ said they were less likely to vote for Heitkamp if she cast a ballotÂ against him, while 17 percent said they were more likely to vote for the Democratic senator if she voted againstÂ his confirmation.
In Tennessee, polls show Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican, saw a surge in support in her race against Democrat Phil Bredesen as Kavanaugh’s confirmation process played out in Washington. Bredesen, a former Tennessee governor, saw his support slip despite saying he supported Kavanaughâ€™s nomination.
In Nevada, incumbent Sen. Dean Heller, a RepublicanÂ who has been locked in a tight race with Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, saw his poll numbers improve in the midst of Kavanaughâ€™s confirmation.
But one poll published earlier this week that showed Heller with a 46 percent to 44 percent lead also indicated Nevada voters were divided on Kavanaugh. The NBC/Marist poll found that 38 percent of likely voters saying theyâ€™re more likely to vote for a candidate who supportedÂ Kavanaugh, while 41 percent said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who opposed Kavanaugh.
The March organizers have partnered with the group Swing Left, which is behind get-out-the-vote and fundraising efforts for Democrats in 84 House districts that were won by a margin of 15 percent or less in the 2016 election cycle. Forty-oneÂ of 84 candidatesÂ backed byÂ Swing Leftâ€™s are womenÂ and 23 of those female candidates areÂ taking on a male incumbent.
Democrats have to net at least 23 additional seats to win control of the House.
In Illinois, there are four hotly-contested House races where GOPÂ incumbents are trying to fend off Democratic challenges. Participants at the Chicago march will be encouraged to get involved in those races as well competitive races in Wisconsin and Minnesota, organizers said.
The rally will start at Grant Park in the heart of downtown and organizers say they intend to honor first-time voters. After the rally, organizers plan to march 2018 first-time voters several blocks to a nearby early voting site where the newly-registered voters can cast their ballots.
â€œWomen have said no, we will not stand for this,â€ saidÂ Vanessa Wruble, executive director of March On, the coalition of groups that have organized the Womenâ€™s Marches around the nation. â€œOur country will not stand for elected leadership that blatantly disregards credible accusations of sexual assault against a Supreme Court nominee.â€