The glass-half-empty view: Not good.
The glass-half-full view: If the GOP had voted to confirm him last week, the hearing would have been the public’s last taste of the Ford controversy. That would have left a bitter aftertaste. As it is, their last taste is likely to be the FBI background-check report. If that report finds nothing credible in the charges against him, the new aftertaste will be sweeter.
The no-really-the-glass-is-half-empty view: Although Justice Kavanaugh won’t be accountable to the electorate and therefore can afford not to care about polls, Collins and Murkowski don’t have the same luxury. The fact that his support has slipped a bit since the hearing may weigh on them. And it may encourage House Democrats to try to impeach him if in fact they reclaim the majority in the lower chamber this fall.
First, Reuters, which has his confirmation split at 33/41 among the overall population and at 20/31 among independents and unaffiliateds:
Opposition to Kavanaugh grew 4 percentage points after the Sept. 27 Judiciary Committee hearing in which university professor Christine Blasey Ford detailed a sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh and he denied it, portraying himself as the victim of a “political hit.”
Opposition grew every day after the hearing in the poll, conducted between Sept. 25 and Oct. 1.
It’s not that he’s lost support he already had, notes Reuters, it’s that some people who were previously undecided have tilted against him since the hearing. Which makes sense, as other polls have showed that more people found Ford’s testimony credible than Kavanaugh’s.
YouGov is the other pollster out with new data today. At 33/43, their confirmation numbers are almost identical to Reuters’s. The gender gap is stark too: Men are evenly divided at 39/40 but women tilt 27/46 against confirmation. Last week when YouGov asked the same question, they found a 33/39 overall split on confirmation with men at 41/36 and women at 36/41. In other words, since the hearing he’s lost six net points among men and 14(!) net points among women.
This marks the fourth straight week that Kavanaugh’s polling has fallen among men, by the way. The numbers among women have fluctuated over the past month but it’s straight downhill among males. He’s gone from +15 net support for confirmation among men three weeks ago to +10 to +5 to -1 today. It’s tempting to believe that his decline in polling is due solely to women turning against him but in reality every week of the Ford saga has cost him five points or so with his own gender. Presumably some guys gave him the benefit of the doubt when Ford first came forward — which was understandable, given the eleventh-hour nature of the accusation — and have gradually shifted as they’ve followed the daily news about it.
See now why Lindsey Graham’s fantasy of Trump renominating Kavanaugh if he’s borked is such a pipe dream? There’s no way McConnell would agree to resume this slow but steady bloodletting once it’s behind him.
Here’s a fun number, meanwhile. If it could be proved to you that young Brett Kavanaugh really did try to rape young Chrissy Blasey, asked YouGov, would that disqualify him from the Supreme Court? Hell yes, say Democrats, who’d oppose him regardless. Yes, say independents, more cautiously. Republicans:
Elsewhere, fully 50 percent of Republicans say the incident with Ford “definitely” didn’t happen even though there’s no way to be “definitely” sure of that. (By the same token, 36 percent of Democrats say it “definitely” did. Partisanship’s a hell of a drug.) We’ve reached the stage of the Trump era, I guess, where we’re required to promote accused rapists to the most powerful positions in public life to “own the libs” even if there’s proof that they’re guilty. It reminds me of what Roman Hruska once famously said of Harrold Carswell, one of Nixon’s SCOTUS nominees, when Carswell was accused of being mediocre on the bench: “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance?” Same goes for rapists now.
One other note from YouGov: The public strongly supports the FBI investigation, 61/25, with even 40 percent of Republicans agreeing that it was a good idea. Watch those numbers change among both parties depending upon whether the feds find something damning on Kavanaugh or don’t.
Update: Wait a sec. A late arrival from Gallup:
That’s the first good-ish polling news he’s had in awhile. Although opposition to confirming him has risen more steeply than support over the past five weeks, the public is still very marginally in favor. That’s all thanks to Republicans. Elsewhere Gallup shows that Kavanaugh is three points underwater among independents and 65 points underwater among Democrats, an 18-point drop since late August. But over the period he’s risen from 64 percent net support among Republicans to 73 percent support. Growing GOP enthusiasm for him is buoying him up amid downward pressure from Democrats and, to a much lesser extent, indies.