Let's first start with obama's options. There are basically two.
Option one: he can nominate someone the republican-controlled Senate is sure to reject: a dyed in the wool liberal. To gani maximum political mileage, this person will probably be from one or more of the protected demographics - minority, and/or female.
Most likely, this means Obama will select an African-American female. That way, when the Senate refuses even to bring the nomination to a vote, the Democratic presidential nominee and Democrats running for Congress can rally African-American voters while also complaining that the GOP is waging war on women...
... Loretta Lynch (confirmed with 10 Republican votes including Majority Leader McConnell’s) comes immediately to mind.
Option 2: he can nominate someone more moderate.
Political calculation also militates in favor of nominating someone whose leftism isn’t obvious. That way, Republicans won’t easily be able to answer charges of racism and sexism by pointing out that the nominee is “outside the mainstream.”In either case, however, obama is sure to make his decision based on partisan political considerations.
On the republican side, they have already made their intentions clear.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” (Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell said.That position, while it might sound good to those of us on the right, carries some significant political risks. The first is the uncertain outcome of the 2016 presidential and senate elections. If a democrat wins the Oval Office, and/or if the republicans lose control of the senate, then all bets are off.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa ... also came out of the gate opposing confirmation of a final Obama Supreme Court nominee.
Many Republicans in D.C. are skeptical that the party will be able to do either, especially if Donald J. Trump or Ted Cruz win the GOP presidential nomination. These establishment Republicans have seen evidence that Trump or Cruz would create a drag on races lower down the ballot, such as the Senate races in November, and are worried Republicans could lose the Senate.Of course, there is another way to look at it.
Republicans currently hold the Senate majority with 54 members, but 24 of those seats are being contested this year — including seven in states where Obama won twice.
If Republicans wait and Democrats win the White House and regain the Senate majority, a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton, for example, would have greater leeway to select a more liberal justice than Obama might have submitted.
But the politics could also work in Republicans’ favor, as mobilization for a Supreme Court nomination by a Republican president could cause conservative voter turnout to spike in 2016, helping candidates across the board...Either way, brace yourself for even more name-calling, fact-distortion, and generally all around dirty politics.
In other words, it'll be politics as usual...