Via Tiana Lowe, who wrote an op-ed during the Ford/Kavanaugh saga warning that trying to take Trump’s SCOTUS nominee down with a tale as thin as Ford’s would inevitably color some people’s views of the entire #MeToo moment. True enough, per a survey from PerryUndem:
Before Kavanaugh, four in five GOP men said they were more likely to believe the woman in a he said/she said. After Kavanaugh, three in five are. Some of that erosion may be due to the simple passage of time: As the drumbeat of compelling #MeToo stories in the newspapers has slowed, some right-wing men predisposed to look a bit more skeptically at certain forms of feminism might have cooled off a bit “organically” in their support for #MeToo. But it’s hard to argue that the Kavanaugh fiasco didn’t accelerate it.
Question, though: Just because Kavanaugh’s hearing was bad for #MeToo among Republican men, was it bad for the movement among the total population? Dig deeper into the PerryUndem numbers and you’ll see that the Kavanaugh-pocaypse was actually fruitful for the cause in some ways. Views of the movement split 52/29 in favorability across the general population afterward. Fifty-six percent said that the hearings made them think more about sexism in American society and 50 percent said it made them think more carefully about the relative power of the two sexes in government. Among suburban women, a demographic key to the Democrats’ midterm victory (which came just a month after Kavanaugh’s hearing), 60 percent said they believed Ford over Kavanaugh, 57 percent said they thought more about men having greater power in government than women afterward, and 70 percent said America would be better off with more women in power. While the Kavanaugh drama may have repelled Republicans, it may also have helped *increase* support for #MeToo among more Democratic-friendly groups.
It didn’t even repel all Republicans. It alienated some Republican men but Republican women may have become more sensitive to issues related to sexism and #MeToo in the aftermath. PerryUndem notes that, before Kavanaugh, GOP men and women held similar views of gender equality; now there are 10-20 point divergences on questions such as whether sexism is a problem in American society and whether the country would be better off with more women in power. The share of Republican women who think men make better leaders than women has also dropped by 20 points. Whether these divergences are due to Republican women growing more “woke” about sexism or Republican men growing less so as part of the Kavanaugh backlash is unclear, and obviously it’s not great for the cause of justice for sexual assault survivors if support for that cause begins to polarize among traditional partisan lines. But clearly the fear that Ford’s story and the Avenatti-led Julie Swetnick circus might sour the entire right on #MeToo going forward is unfounded. The backlash isn’t a guy thing or even a Republican thing. It’s a Republican guy thing.
And needless to say, it’s a moving target. If the Democratic presidential nominee gets walloped by a blockbuster sexual-misconduct allegation a month out from Election Day 2020, respect for #MeToo among GOP men will leap overnight. Maybe not quite to the heights it saw before Kavanaugh, but there’s no reason to believe the current numbers are some new normal that’ll last forever.