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A Final Look At Where Voters Stand On Kavanaugh Before The Senate Votes

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

As the Senate prepares for a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, let’s take a step back and look at how this whole saga has affected his standing, as well as what voters think of the nominee.

Last week, Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were in high school, and Kavanaugh, who denies the charge, each testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Since then, the evidence suggests that Kavanaugh’s standing didn’t really change from where he was before the hearing. Looking at three pollsters1 who conducted surveys in the seven days before and after the hearing, we found that net support for Kavanaugh’s nomination declined by an average of 1 point.

Voters haven’t changed their minds much post-hearing

Change in net support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation (the share of registered voters who favor confirmation minus those who oppose) before and after Ford and Kavanaugh testified on Sept. 27

Net Support
Pollster Last poll Before Hearing Most recent poll Change
Morning Consult -3 -3 0
YouGov/Economist -4 -6 -2
Marist -1 -3 -2

That’s not much of a drop, but if we zoom out, we can see that most of the deterioration in the public’s support for the Kavanaugh nomination happened after Ford’s name became public in a Sept. 16 Washington Post article but before the Sept. 27 hearing.

One thing that is obvious from polls we’ve looked at is that Americans have become increasingly divided along party lines when it comes to the Kavanaugh nomination. Generally, Republicans are more in favor of confirming Kavanaugh and Democrats are more opposed — a polarization that increased in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations. Polls show Americans who were previously undecided have taken a stance on Kavanaugh since the hearing, largely along party lines.2

Women are also more likely than men to oppose Kavanaugh. Some polling data we examined for Pollapalooza last week suggested that party allegiance might have weakened as Republican women seemed to sour on Kavanaugh, but recent polls indicate that partisanship is keeping a firm grip on women. On average, in surveys conducted since the Sept. 27 hearing, there has been an 18-point gender gap in net support for Kavanaugh; specifically, net support for Kavanaugh among women has averaged -14 points, while among men, it’s been +4 points.

In addition to being divided on whether Kavanaugh should be confirmed, Americans are split (mainly by party) on whether they believe that Ford or Kavanaugh is telling the truth about Ford’s sexual assault allegations. According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, they’re slightly more likely to believe Ford than Kavanaugh, 48 percent to 41 percent.

Voters are also conflicted about on how they want their senators to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination. A recent Morning Consult poll found that voters (driven mostly by Democrats) are more likely to support a Senate candidate who votes against Kavanaugh than one who votes for him, by a margin of 36 percent to 27 percent. How senators ultimately vote on Kavanaugh could affect how voters approach the midterm elections.

Other polling nuggets

  • In two recent polls, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat whose trial on corruption charges ended in a deadlocked jury last year, led his Republican opponent Bob Hugin by 4 and 6 percentage points, respectively. But a third poll found Menendez ahead by 11 points, so it’s unclear how secure his seat really is. FiveThirtyEight’s Senate forecast gives Menendez an 9 in 10 chance of winning.
  • Democrats are hoping to capture the Arizona Senate seat that Republican Jeff Flake is opting out of at the end of his term. A Suffolk University poll conducted recently contains some good news for them: The Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, held a 3-point lead over Republican U.S. Rep. Martha McSally. FiveThirtyEight’s Senate forecast gives Sinema a 5 in 8 chance of winning the seat.
  • 79 percent of Latino registered voters are either “somewhat” or “very” concerned that the Trump administration might share answers to citizenship questions collected in the 2020 census with agencies such as the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a poll by Latino Decisions.
  • According to a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, a little over half of Republicans said they would consider voting for a political candidate who had been accused of sexual harassment by multiple people if they agreed with them on the issues. Conversely, 81 percent of Democrats say they would “definitely not vote for” the candidate.
  • According to a SurveyMonkey/Axios poll, 42 percent of Americans think the trade war with China has been good for jobs. That includes 80 percent of Republicans but only 10 percent of Democrats.
  • 63 percent of Americans say wedding-related businesses should be required to provide the same services to same-sex couples that they provide to other couples, according to a Harris Poll conducted for Out & Equal Workplace Advocates.
  • About one-third of registered voters don’t know the name of their party’s candidate for Congress in their district, according to an Ipsos/Reuters poll. And this is true for both parties: Republicans and Democrats are roughly equally unlikely to know.
  • A Pew Research Center poll found that U.S. Catholics’ opinions of Pope Francis have turned more negative amid growing reports of sexual abuse allegations against the Catholic Church. In the survey, 72 percent said they had a favorable opinion of him; that’s down from 84 percent in January.
  • According to YouGov, 10 percent of Americans have a Halloween costume planned for this year, 18 percent plan to wear a costume but haven’t picked one out yet, and 66 percent are total party poopers and say they don’t plan to wear one at all.
  • In Luxembourg, citizens are required to go to the polls,3 and on Oct. 14, they’ll be electing a new Chamber of Deputies. The Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) currently holds a plurality (23 of the 60 seats) in their unicameral legislature but isn’t in the ruling coalition.4 The CSV continues to poll higher than other individual parties.

Trump approval

Polls this week showed another small increase in Trump’s approval rating. His net approval rating sits at -10.3 percentage points, according to our Trump approval tracker. (That’s a 42.1 percent approval rating and a 52.4 percent disapproval rating.) That’s an improvement in net approval from one week ago, when it stood at -11.3 points; 41.5 percent of Americans approved of Trump’s job performance and 52.8 percent disapproved. At this time last month, that net approval was -13.8 points — 39.9 percent approval, 53.7 percent disapproval.

Generic ballot

According to our tracker of generic congressional ballot polls, the Democrats’ lead has narrowed to 7.7-percentage points. In a hypothetical matchup, 49.0 percent of Americans would vote for a Democratic congressional candidate and 41.3 percent would vote for a Republican. Last week, Democrats led 49.6 percent to 40.9 percent (an 8.7-point margin). Democrats’ lead is slightly less than it was one month ago, when they had an 8.4-point advantage against Republicans, 48.3 percent to 39.9 percent.

Check out our 2018 House and Senate forecasts and all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the midterms.

Footnotes

  1. Specifically, we looked at polls from Morning Consult, polls from YouGov/Economist and polls from Marist.

  2. Eighteen percent of registered voters said they were undecided in a Sept. 23-25 YouGov/Economist poll that asked whether the Senate should confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. But only 11 percent were undecided in a Sept. 30-Oct. 2 YouGov/Economist poll.

  3. Luxembourg has compulsory voting for adults ages 18 to 75, although penalties for not voting haven’t always been enforced.

  4. The current ruling coalition is composed of the Democratic Party, the Socialist Workers’ Party, and the Greens.

Janie Velencia is a freelance writer focused on survey research. She previously covered the 2016 elections as the associate polling editor for The Huffington Post. Prior to that, Janie managed congressional data and wrote for CQ Roll Call.

Dhrumil Mehta is a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight focusing on politics.

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