More American voters now oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination than support it after he was accused of committing sexual assault while he was in high school, with opposition increasing 9 points since last month, according to a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Kavanaugh has categorically denied the accusation, which delayed his scheduled confirmation vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and which has roiled American politics less than seven weeks before the 2018 midterm elections.
In the poll — which was conducted Sunday (when the accusation from Christine Blasey Ford was first made public) through Wednesday — 38 percent of voters say they oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the nation’s highest court, including 27 percent who “strongly” oppose him.
That’s compared with 34 percent who support his nomination, including 25 percent who “strongly” support him. Twenty-eight percent say they don’t enough to have an opinion.
This is the first time in the NBC/WSJ poll — dating back to John Roberts’ nomination in 2005 — that a Supreme Court nominee has been underwater on this confirmation question. (Harriet Miers, whose nomination was ultimately withdrawn, was above water at 27 percent support, 21 percent oppose in the October 2005 survey).
It’s also a reversal from the NBC/WSJ poll earlier this summer, when more voters said they supported Kavanaugh than opposed him. In July, 32 percent backed his nomination, versus 26 percent who opposed it (+6). And in August, it was 33 percent support, 29 percent oppose (+4).
The increased opposition to Kavanaugh has come, in particular, from women over 50 (who were +3 on Kavanaugh’s confirmation in August and are -7 now) suburban women (-6 in August and -11 now), independents (who were +15 in August and -16 now) and seniors (+9 in August to -10 now).
Despite those changes, support for Kavanaugh breaks down largely along party lines. Seventy-three percent of Republicans back his nomination, versus only 4 percent who oppose. (By comparison, current Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s score among Republicans in the February 2017 NBC/WSJ poll was 58 percent support, 2 percent oppose.)
Among Democrats, however, it’s 66 percent oppose, 8 percent support. And independents are opposed to Kavanaugh, 37 percent to 21 percent.
That partisan split also applies to women: 70 percent of Republican support Kavanaugh, compared with just 5 percent of Democratic women and 17 percent of independent women who agree.
All other Supreme Court nominees the NBC/WSJ poll has tested have enjoyed positive-negative scores that have been above water.
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Sept. 16-19 of 900 registered voters — reached by both cellphone and landline — and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points.