Voter support for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court is down in the wake of Christine Ford’s assault allegations, as more believe her than him.
Currently, 40 percent of voters would confirm Kavanaugh, while 50 percent oppose him, according to a Fox News poll. Last month, views split 45-46 percent (August 19-21).
More voters believe Ford’s claims than Kavanaugh’s denials by a 6-point margin, 36 vs. 30 percent. However, about one-third, 34 percent, are unsure who is telling the truth.
Women are more likely to believe Ford by 10 points, and among suburban women that jumps to 17. Men side with her by just 1 point.
White voters divide by education: those with a college degree believe Ford by a 14-point margin, while those without a degree side with Kavanaugh by 17.
Democrats believe Ford by a 59-9 percent margin. It’s the reverse among Republicans, 60 percent believe him, 14 percent her.
Since August, support for Kavanagh’s confirmation dropped 12 points among independents, 11 points among suburban women, and 10 points among voters under age 45. Support is also down, by smaller margins, among men (-5 points), women (-4), Democrats (-5), and Republicans (-4).
Most Republicans, 81 percent, support Kavanaugh’s confirmation. That’s matched by opposition among Democrats (82 percent).
Overall, the 50 percent opposing Kavanaugh is the highest opposition to a Supreme Court nominee in Fox surveys going back to 2005. Forty-six opposed Kavanaugh in August. Before his nomination, the previous high was when 39 percent opposed Neil Gorsuch in March 2017.
“It’s not terribly surprising Kavanaugh’s numbers would drop given the nature of the claim,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News poll with Democratic counterpart Chris Anderson. “Accusations tend to drive opinion when they come late in the game and when people don’t know much about the person who is being accused.”
What about the upcoming midterm elections? When looking only at counties where the 2016 presidential vote was close (Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump within 10 points), support for Kavanaugh is down 11 points from August: currently, 35 percent would confirm, while 54 percent wouldn’t.
About equal numbers of Democrats (41 percent) and Republicans (43 percent) say it is extremely important to them to back a congressional candidate who shares their opinion on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
More Trump approvers (44 percent) than disapprovers (36 percent) feel it is extremely important to vote for a candidate who shares their view on Kavanaugh. At the same time, more voters disapprove (52 percent) than approve (44 percent) of the president.
Among Trump approvers, 81 percent would confirm Kavanaugh.
A majority, 56 percent, thinks the Senate should delay the confirmation process until hearings can be held on Ford’s claims. That includes 32 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of independents, and 80 percent of Democrats. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hear from both Kavanaugh and Ford next week.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced September 13 that she had information concerning Kavanaugh’s nomination from someone requesting confidentiality. Christine Ford identified herself as that person September 16.
Those following news about the accusations very or somewhat closely (66 percent of voters) are more likely to believe Ford’s claims by 6 points (44-38 percent), and more likely than voters overall to think the process should be delayed (62 percent).
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,003 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from September 16-19, 2018. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. For items related to Ford’s allegations it is plus or minus four points (September 17-19, 2018).