Poll: Plurality opposes confirmation for Kavanaugh -- but says he's the victim of a smear campaign

Those results aren’t strictly contradictory. For instance, you might believe that he’s being smeared on the Ford and Ramirez allegations but nonetheless think he’s too ideologically “extreme” for the Court. Or that, while innocent of the sexual-assault charges, he lied to the Committee about his drinking and his yearbook and thereby disqualified himself.

But still: Pretty weird. Apparently there are (a few) Americans who’ve managed to separate the question of Kavanaugh’s guilt or innocence from the question of whether he should sit on the highest bench in the land.

Quinnipiac finds a li’l bit of a gender gap on the confirmation question:

When asked whom they believe when given a choice, a similar plurality says it believes Ford, 48/41. The gender gap there is nearly identical to the one on confirmation. Among men, 47 percent say they believe Kavanaugh versus 40 percent who say Ford. Among women? 55/35 in the opposite direction.

And yet, when asked if Kavanaugh is the target of a “politically motivated smear campaign,” the public tilts the other way:

Republican numbers are fairly consistent between this result and the result of the confirmation question up above but independents and whites with a college degree each flip from no on confirming him to yes on detecting a smear. The margins among other groups are also more pro-Kavanaugh on this question than they are on confirmation. Women are close to evenly divided but men are +18 on believing he’s being smeared. I wonder how much Julie Swetnick’s sensational, Avenatti-approved “rape parties” allegation influenced the results here. It may be that that’s the “smear” people had in mind when asked. That is, people might believe that Ford is on the level and therefore Kavanaugh should be disqualified while also believing that some accusers, like Swetnick, are simply piling on with made-up claims.

Gender gaps are nothing new to recent polling on Kavanaugh, even before last Thursday’s hearing. Here’s what Morning Consult found in a poll taken early last week, before the hearing:

Note the gender gaps *within* partisan groups. There’s a large partisan gap too, of course — there always is, on nearly every subject — but men in the center and on the right are considerably more likely to support confirmation than women in the same groups are.

It’s also true across more than one poll that men are more likely to find Ford credible than women are likely to find Kavanaugh credible. Quinnipiac finds majorities of both genders willing to say that they think Ford is an honest person. Asked the same question about Kavanaugh, though, women split 39/50. Similarly, in the latest YouGov poll, men are almost evenly divided on both Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s credibility. Women, not so much:

Overall, thanks to skepticism from women, just 35 percent of the public thinks Kavanaugh was telling the truth versus 38 percent that thinks he wasn’t. For Ford the split was 41/30.

One last data point, again from YouGov:

Mmmmmmmm, that’s good partisanship. Between that and the 87 percent of Republicans in the Quinnipiac survey who say they believe Kavanaugh is honest, you can see why the White House and Senate Republicans have to try to confirm him at this point. The confirmation has become a credibility test and Republican voters almost unanimously view Kavanaugh as credible. For the Senate GOP to sink him now would be to say that they don’t trust the judgment of their own base.