INDEPENDENCE, IowaSen. Chuck Grassley said in an interview here that the Republicans might win congressional majorities next week because of “Kavanaugh” and “the caravan.”

Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Republican enthusiasm picked up in the aftermath of the explosive hearings on Capitol Hill to examine allegations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh, nominated for the Supreme Court by President Trump. He was ultimately confirmed on a party-line vote, with one Democrat and one Republican, respectively breaking ranks.

Grassley, R-Iowa, said GOP enthusiasm is holding steady since partly because of fears about a migrant caravan making its way north through Mexico toward the Southern border. The migrants, from troubled Central American countries, are hoping to be granted political asylum by the U.S. But Trump has warned that they are filled with criminals and carry diseases.

"It did away with the lethargy of the Republican base. We've got enthusiasm as high as what the Democrats have now nationally,” Grassley said in an interview with the Washington Examiner, regarding the partisan Supreme Court confirmation process. “The caravan may be the second boost, but the Kavanaugh thing is the instigator of any boost we had."

House Republicans are laboring to defend a 23-seat majority. Senate Republicans, in better shape because they’re competing on a favorable map, are likely to pad their 51-49 advantage.

It’s unusual for politicians to discuss policy priorities in starkly political terms, although it’s typical of Grassley, a seven-term senator know to speak his mind and speak plainly. This approach certainly hasn’t hurt President Trump — at least not yet. But occasionally, such honestly, or, speaking like a political operative, can get politicians in trouble.

In 2015, when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was on the cusp of becoming the next speaker of the House, he suggested in an interview on Fox News that House Republicans formed a special select committee to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya to weaken Democrat Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”

House Republicans ultimately selected Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to succeed John Boehner as speaker. Ryan is stepping down at year’s end, when he will retire from Congress. McCarthy is again the leading Republican to become the speaker, if his party holds the House majority.

Al Weaver reported from Iowa; David M. Drucker reported from Washington.