Voters in 10 competitive House battleground districts remain deeply divided on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, according to a wave of New York Times Upshot/Siena College polls.
But there are signs his support is eroding.
Over all, 44 percent of likely voters in the districts said they supported Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination, with 45 percent opposed. Among all registered voters, 40 percent supported Mr. Kavanaugh, and 43 percent were opposed.
The surveys were conducted after the initial allegation that Mr. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when they were both teenagers, and before other allegations of sexual impropriety surfaced.
Mr. Kavanaugh’s support appeared to slip during the course of last week. In interviews since Wednesday, 42 percent of likely voters have supported Mr. Kavanaugh, and 47 percent have opposed his nomination.
The decline in Mr. Kavanaugh’s support is not so large that chance can’t be ruled out as the reason. But the result holds up after taking into account a long list of demographic, political and geographic controls. Our best estimate, controlling for these factors, is that Mr. Kavanaugh’s support dropped by a net of three to four percentage points over the last week.
The data includes results from interviews with voters in competitive House districts in rural Iowa, the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, and the suburbs of Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., Seattle and New York. Over all, the districts are whiter, more affluent and more Republican than the country as a whole, but they supported Hillary Clinton by a narrow margin in 2016, as the country did in the popular vote. President Trump’s 41 percent approval rating across the districts is also in line with recent national surveys.
National polls indicate that Mr. Kavanaugh was already the most unpopular nominee for the high court in decades, even before the recent allegations.
But in this challenging political environment for Republicans, the most unpopular nominee in decades may still be one of the party’s better rallying cries this fall. Support for Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination outpaces the president’s approval rating, the Republican standing on the generic ballot, and even the average favorability of the Republicans running for Congress in these districts.
One reason is that Democrats are not quite as unified in opposition to Mr. Kavanaugh as one might expect, with 82 percent against his nomination. This is mainly attributable to higher levels of support for Mr. Kavanaugh among less engaged, less educated and nonwhite Democrats: Only 73 percent of nonwhite Democrats, 78 percent of Democrats without a college degree, and 70 percent of Democrats who didn’t vote in the 2014 midterm election opposed Mr. Kavanaugh.
Among white college-educated Democrats who voted in 2014, Mr. Kavanaugh was opposed, 90 percent to 4 percent.
Republicans are generally unified in backing Mr. Kavanaugh, at 84 percent support. Self-identified Republicans who disapprove of Mr. Trump’s performance, a relatively common group in these 10 districts, were divided on Mr. Kavanaugh, with 44 percent supporting his nomination and 47 percent opposed.
Eighty-one percent of Republican women support Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination. Support among Republican men was only somewhat higher, at 86 percent.
There’s a notable gender gap in his support, with only 38 percent of women over all supporting his nomination and 50 percent opposing, while men support him, 51 to 40.
This 23 percent gender gap, though large, is not particularly significant in the context of the rest of the survey: There is a 27 point gender gap on whether voters want Democrats to take control of the House.
You can view the entirety of our polling here, and we’ll continue to ask voters in House battlegrounds about Mr. Kavanaugh for at least the next week.