Poll: Majority now opposes Kavanaugh's confirmation, 52% say they believe his accusers

I’m giving you the good polls, gotta flag the counterexamples too.

Although this new one from CNN isn’t really a “counter” to the polls showing Republican candidates like Kevin Cramer and Marsha Blackburn growing their leads post-Kavanaugh. The battleground polls are taken among red-state electorates, the CNN poll is taking among a national electorate — and even CNN’s poll finds growing support for Kavanaugh among Republicans nationally, which helps explain Cramer’s and Blackburn’s fortunes. It’s entirely possible that the GOP will add Senate seats this fall with more than half the country giving thumbs down to the newest justice.


But that won’t be good for Republican fortunes in the House. It’s not great for the institution of the Court or for the country either. And of course it’s terrible for Kavanaugh personally and professionally. To the extent the Democratic mission in all this wasn’t so much to bork him as to break perceptions of his legitimacy indefinitely, that mission may have been accomplished.

Among Democrats, 63% opposed his nomination in early September, and that has risen to 91% in the new poll. Among Republicans, 74% backed him in September and 89% do so now…

Among Democrats, negative impressions of Kavanaugh have jumped 30 points, from 56% in August to 86% now. Positive views of Kavanaugh among Republicans have grown at the same time, increasing 18 points from 62% in August to 80% now. Among women, 53% now have a negative view, up from 33% in August. Men split evenly, 41% positive to 41% negative, but that’s still an increase in negative impressions compared with a 40% positive to 25% negative divide in August…

All told, 52% of Americans say they believe the women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct over the judge’s denials of those accusations (38% said they believed him more than the women). And half (50%) said they thought he lied about his alcohol use as a young adult, more than thought he was telling the truth about it (37%). Half say Kavanaugh’s personal conduct has disqualified him to serve on the court, and 53% say his professional qualifications do not outweigh any questions about his personal conduct.


In the last CNN poll taken in early September, the public split 38/39 on whether he should be confirmed. That was in line with most other polling at the time. Now he’s at 41/51 thanks to the enormous leap in opposition to his confirmation among Democrats and women. A month ago Republicans were more unified in supporting his confirmation than Dems were in opposing it. Not anymore. At 91 percent opposition, Team Blue is about as solidly anti-Kavanaugh as it is anti-Trump.

The most noteworthy data, I think, comes from the question where people were asked if the statement “Kavanaugh would be influenced by his personal political beliefs when considering cases before the Supreme Court” correctly describes him or not.

Men are 48/44 on that question. Women are … 63/28. The overall number of 56 percent who say he’s likely to be influenced by partisanship is a few points higher than most of the other anti-Kavanaugh results to questions in CNN’s poll, which could have a “good” explanation or a “bad” one. The “good” explanation (which isn’t really good) is that some Republicans are not only hoping but expecting that Kavanaugh will be a partisan on the Court. As you can see above, Republican numbers here are a bit more evenly split than Democratic ones. Some righties might think an openly partisan GOP justice is just what America needs. (Or, more charitably, they reason that since the Democratic appointees on the Court tend to vote in lockstep, the Court is already a partisan-hack institution. In which case, Kavanaugh had better be the partisan they’re counting on.) The “bad” explanation is that Kavanaugh’s opening statement at the hearing, where he chided Democrats on the Judiciary Committee for their behavior, has poisoned public perceptions of his impartiality. Maybe those perceptions will recover; nothing would earn him some Strange New Respect by upholding Roe. But the speech, which probably secured his confirmation, may have also badly damaged much of the country’s impression of him as a fair judge.


Another interesting, somewhat counterintuitive finding from the poll: Despite their opposition to his confirmation, a plurality of voters (48/41) say Kavanaugh was indeed the victim of a “politically motivated smear campaign.” How that squares with the 52/38 split when they’re asked if they believe his accusers or if they believe him, I don’t know. Maybe they believe some accusers — namely, Ford — but think the Avenatti/Swetnick thing is a pure political hit. Ask them about “smear campaigns” and they think of Avenatti, ask them if they believe Kavanaugh or “his accusers” and they think of Ford. Or maybe they found the media’s bias so obvious and desperate that they sensed a coordinated attempt to smear him even if they believed Ford’s original accusation:

Maybe this helps explain the “smear campaign” answer too:


Even Democratic voters weren’t thrilled with how their leaders handled the matter, splitting just 67/26 in favor. That ambivalence is probably due less to them finding the eleventh-hour hit on Kavanaugh sleazy than to Feinstein fumbling away a golden opportunity to bork Kavanaugh by persuading Ford to come forward sooner. If this had happened in July instead of September, when Trump still had time before the midterms to nominate and confirm someone else, Kavanaugh might have been done. Independents, however, might have found Feinstein’s disgraceful tactics and the ensuing “Spartacus” clown show sufficiently distasteful that they really do fault the Dems for being too aggressive rather than not aggressive enough. How much hay can Democrats make of Kavanaugh, asks Philip Klein, when indies are thoroughly disgusted with how both parties handled the matter?


Speaking of voter backlash to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, your exit question comes from Trump:

In a brief telephone interview with The Washington Post, Trump said voters in Alaska “will never forgive” Murkowski for voting against confirming Kavanaugh, and he forecast her defeat in a Republican primary should she run for reelection in 2022.

“I think she will never recover from this,” Trump said. “I think the people from Alaska will never forgive her for what she did.”

Is that right? She’s already won in Alaska as a write-in candidate and easily defeated a challenge from the right in 2016. Kavanaugh’s likely to be ollllllld news by 2022, particularly if there’s another confirmation battle in the interim. Odds are very good that Trump will be out of government before Murkowski will.

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