Perhaps this measures just how different life is outside of the political/media bubble. While senators and political observers have quickly settled into fixed positions on the question of allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, nearly half of the American public has yet to determine whether it has any credibility, according to a new YouGov/HuffPost poll. Only 26% of all respondents find Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation of sexual assault in 1982 credible, a number that goes up among registered voters — but so does the number who don’t find it credible:
YouGov/Politico poll: Is the allegation against Kavanaugh credible? A significant plurality says they don't know or haven't heard enough to say. Cred/Non cred respondents split almost evenly (26/28)… pic.twitter.com/Jplu3IRJCL
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 21, 2018
The partisan demos break down about how you’d imagine. A majority of Democrats (53%) find them credible, which seems a little weak under the circumstances, while 60% of Republicans find them not credible. A majority of independents are reserving judgment (55%), but among those who have made a conclusion on credibility, it splits 19/25 in leaning toward not credible.
One interesting demographic result comes from female respondents. Among those who have reached a conclusion on credibility, it only barely edges toward credible, 25/23. The majority of women in the survey say they are either unsure or haven’t heard enough yet (53%). Even more interestingly, women are slightly more likely to want Kavanaugh to withdraw than to stick around, but not by much (36/30, compared to 35/42 among men). The split is a little more significant when it comes to the actual confirmation vote, with women opposing it 24/33, but with 43% saying they haven’t yet made up their minds, either. (Men split 40/32 in favor of confirmation.)
What can we make out of these rather dispassionate responses? Let’s go to the first two questions. Even among registered voters, only 64% are following the confirmation process somewhat or very closely (52% among all respondents), even as the scandal eruption has been the top news story all week. On the question of the nomination, a third of all respondents and 22% of registered voters say that they don’t know enough to say whether they approve of it. Among those who do, support and opposition for Kavanaugh is about evenly divided — 32/36 among all respondents, 39/38 among registered voters. Even more interesting, forty percent of women haven’t yet made up their minds on approve/disapprove.
So far, the hyperbole this week has yet to engage voters outside of the media/political bubble. The nomination itself hasn’t produced much passion outside of it, and the allegation even less so. Perhaps coverage should reflect that fact a little more, or at least the diversity of opinion on this allegation.
If it did, reporters might not get as surprised by responses from voters as this CNN interviewer was. She asked five Republican women what they thought of the allegations, and the women unanimously dismissed them (via Newsalert):
CNN asked women if they believe Judge Kavanaugh.
This was not the response they were expecting.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) September 21, 2018
Update: One other thought occurs to me when reading this data, too. We have been bombarded with the message of “believe the woman!” for nearly a year of the #MeToo movement, and to some extent beyond that; Hillary Clinton made that argument against Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign, which backfired on her somewhat. Even with that drumbeat from the media and entertainment industry, though, only 25% of women default to that position. That’s a good sign that Americans still take seriously the traditions regarding burden of proof and presumption of innocence.