More WSJ/NBC poll: Battleground voters favor Kavanaugh confirmation -- by double digits

Wonder no more at the Kavanaugh Effect. To follow up on the previous post regarding Donald Trump’s rebound in popularity after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, NBC digs a little deeper into the numbers in the new poll from its partnership with the Wall Street Journal. It finds voters diffident on Kavanaugh himself but a thin plurality in favor of his confirmation — a change in direction from other polling over the past month:

Overall, Kavanaugh remains underwater on personal favorability, with 34 percent of voters reporting a positive view of him, while 40 percent have a negative one.

Asked a different way, 40 percent of registered voters say they favor Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the high court, while 36 percent oppose it. About one in five (21 percent) say they need to know more about him.

Small wonder one in five voters need to know more about Kavanaugh. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings barely touched on his life as an adult, let alone his actual record as a jurist. When it comes to the districts where control of the House will be determined, however, the gap widens into double digits:

Republicans overall have seen an increase in enthusiasm about the midterms since the last NBC/WSJ poll in September — which was conducted before Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford testified publicly about the assault allegations. Last month, 61 percent of Republicans indicated that they had the highest level of interest in voting in the midterms; that’s up to 68 percent this month.

Voters in key House districts also favor Kavanaugh’s confirmation. In districts rated as Toss Up or Lean races by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, voters favor Kavanaugh’s confirmation 43 percent to 33 percent.

It’s not a majority, but that’s a strong plurality. Not only that, but the relatively low number opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation in these districts seems pretty surprising, given the amount of media hyperventilating over the unsubstantiated allegations that drove the coverage. Either the smear campaign didn’t stick long, or it never worked very well in the very areas of the country where Democrats most needed a game-changer.

Unfortunately for them, it looks like they got what they wanted. The Kavanaughcalypse not only provided a catalyst for Republican enthusiasm, it looks like it landed precisely where Republicans needed it. Such are the Kavanaughnsequences for witch hunts and smear campaigns, or so we hope. The only way to prevent exploitation of moral panics from being the new political norm is to supply strong disincentives for its use. At least for the moment, that appears to be in reach.