Americans are divided on whether or not senators should vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, with 38% who say yes and 39% who say no, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS and released on Tuesday.
Contentious hearings did not move the needle in either direction for Kavanaugh. The new numbers are similar to CNN’s August poll, when 37% supported his confirmation and four in 10 did not. At that time, Kavanaugh had the lowest level of support for a Supreme Court nominee since Robert Bork, whose nomination was rejected by the Senate in 1987.
Republicans offer the highest level of support for Kavanaugh, with three-quarters who say the Senate should vote to confirm his nomination, the same number as in August. Democrats are strongly against Kavanaugh’s nomination, with 63% who say the senate shouldn’t vote in favor, slightly down from 67%. Independents fall closer to Democrats on Kavanaugh, with 40% who don’t want senators to confirm him and a third who say they should.
More Americans disapprove (45%) of the way Republicans and Democrats in the Senate handled the hearings than the 34% who approved of the way the hearings were handled.
But 68% of Republicans in the poll approve of how their own party performed. A slightly smaller percentage of Democrats (59%) approve of how their party handled the Kavanaugh’s hearings.
Democrats who identify as liberal were more likely to approve of how Senate Democrats are handling Kavanaugh’s hearings, with two-thirds who say so compared to moderate or conservative Democrats, only half of whom approve of their party’s actions regarding the hearings. That could be good news for the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee with 2020 ambitions. Senators like New Jersey’s Cory booker and California’s Kamala Harris used the platform of the hearings to push Kavanaugh on a number of issues.
That exposure could be helpful if they are to appeal to the liberal side of the party and cut through what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field in 2020.
Independents aren’t very happy with either party, with 28% who say they approve of how both the Democrats and the Republicans are handling the situation.
Regarding Kavanaugh himself, Americans are still split on whether his views are mainstream or too extreme, with 39% who say he’s mainstream and 37% who think he’s too extreme on important issues. A quarter still don’t know enough to say. Women are less likely to view Kavanaugh’s views as mainstream, with only 34% who say so – 10 percentage points less than men.
The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS Sept. 6 through 9 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.