In the wake of the Supreme Court justice’s corrosive confirmation battle, the conventional wisdom in Washington was that the fight would energize Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections next month. But a recent poll suggests that Kavanaugh himself is still deeply unpopular among Americans, and that expectations of a surge in GOP support have yet to come true.
Fifty-one percent of Americans opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation after it took place last Saturday, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released today. Only 41 percent of respondents backed him. That’s a higher level of support than in the days immediately after Christine Blasey Ford and Debbie Ramirez came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school and college, respectively. But the overall level of opposition is much greater than any other failed or successful Supreme Court nominee in recent American history.
The poll found increased voter enthusiasm after the confirmation battle. Unfortunately for the GOP, it narrowly favored Democrats: 33 percent of Americans said the confirmation battle made them more likely to vote for Democratic candidates, while 27 percent said they would be more likely to vote for Republicans instead. Democrats already had a significant edge in voter enthusiasm this year, and the president’s party traditionally loses seats in Congress during the first midterm election of his tenure. For now, it looks like that pattern is holding.
Kavanaugh’s extraordinarily partisan remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee also left quite an impact on Americans. The poll found that 43 percent of Americans think his presence on the court will increase the number of politically motivated Supreme Court rulings. They also appear to be largely unpersuaded by his denials of wrongdoing: 53 percent said they support further investigations into his past, including 58 percent of women. The Republican effort to rush Kavanaugh onto the court without a thorough inquiry already looked like a moral error. It may turn out to be a political one as well.