Jonathan Swan Feb 21, 2017
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Inside Trump's SCOTUS strategy

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The Trump team's strategy to confirm Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch has boiled down to a single psychological advantage: They're betting Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer has more powerful incentives than Republicans to avoid the "nuclear option."

Trump's inner circle on the court fight doesn't view the nuclear option as a disappointing fallback. Far from it. They'd see its use now as a major strategic victory.

Why this matters: Democrats are in a tougher spot on the Supreme Court than many realize. The base is braying for total warfare, and Schumer is channeling that pressure. Red state Democrats, however, are concerned about their re-election chances in 2018, and some are telling their more bipartisan Republican colleagues that they're worried about facing primary challenges from the left.