WASHINGTON – Brett Kavanaugh now sits on the Supreme Court, but the contentious battle over his nomination continues to reverberate in the run-up to next month’s midterm elections.
A new NEWS US TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds that more than six in 10 likely voters say Kavanaugh’s confirmation after facing allegations of sexual assault makes them more likely to vote for one party or the other. Despite the conventional wisdom that the fight energized the GOP base, these voters are more likely to say it has spurred them to support Democrats.
Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor, testified in September before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh tried to rape her at a house party in suburban Maryland when both were in high school. In a combative response, Kavanaugh denied any wrongdoing.
The Senate then confirmed him 50-48, largely along party lines.
In the survey, 35 percent said Kavanaugh’s confirmation made them more likely to vote for a Democratic congressional candidate and 27 percent said it made them more likely to vote for a Republican congressional candidate. Another 37 percent said it wouldn’t affect their vote.
There was a gender difference: By 3 percentage points, men said it made them more likely to vote Democratic. By 12 points, women said it made them more likely to vote Democratic.
“Women have a place in our society, and we’ve been demeaned enough,” said Gala Kline, 63, from Edon, a rural community in northwest Ohio. Kline, a political independent who finds herself opposing President Trump, was among those called in the poll. She wondered how thoroughly Kavanaugh had been investigated, including for previous government appointments. “People say ‘he’s been questioned, they’ve done all these background checks for years.’ Did they ask the right question?”
But Wayne Bishop, 77, of Greenwood, S.C., said the attacks on Kavanaugh were part of a larger picture that was going to help Republicans retain control of the House and Senate. “I think people are getting mad at the super liberals – the Kavanaugh thing, the immigration, all that kind of stuff,” he said.
The telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters, taken Thursday through Monday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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Kavanaugh’s confirmation was seen by some as a test of whether things had changed since 1991, when the Senate confirmed Clarence Thomas to the high court despite accusations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill. Some of the senators who voted for Kavanaugh noted that Ford’s version of events wasn’t backed up by corroborating witnesses. Some said they believed she had been attacked but not by Kavanaugh, though she said she was “100 percent” certain of her identification.
One third of those surveyed, 33 percent, said Kavanaugh’s confirmation made them “angry;” one fourth, 26 percent, said they were “delighted.” Just 6 percent said his confirmation “doesn’t matter one way or the other.”
Hard feelings remain: 45 percent say his addition to the Supreme Court is a “bad thing,” higher than the 35 percent who say it is a “good thing.”
That said, those surveyed had a favorable impression of the Supreme Court by 55 percent to 25 percent — a more positive view than that of the president, Congress, the Republican and Democratic parties, and the news media.