Brett Kavanaugh Is One of the Least Popular Supreme Court Nominees EverPhoto by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Politics Features Brett Kavanaugh
While this title is undeniably true, it does come with a caveat: Americans have never really expressed a forceful opinion on Supreme Court nominees. The law is a complex and arcane topic and it’s difficult for lawyers to come to a firm conclusion on policy initiatives, let alone regular everyday Americans. Plus, it’s not like we’re the most active participants in our democracy anyway. Oligarchs have overtaken our politics and it’s partially because voter apathy created a vacuum for them to step into. All that said, it’s still crystal clear that Brett Kavanaugh is historically unpopular with Americans.
According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, only Harriet Miers (who withdrew her nomination in 2005) and Robert Bork (who was rejected by the Senate in 1987) had less public support during their confirmation hearings than Brett Kavanaugh. Just 38% of Americans say that Kavanaugh should be confirmed, while 39% oppose. The rest do not know. A Politico/Morning Consult poll buttresses the idea that there is a lack of enthusiasm around Kavanaugh’s confirmation, as just 37% of registered voters support him becoming a Supreme Court Justice.
One big reason Kavanaugh is so unpopular may have nothing to do with him personally, and is more about the Republican Party’s clear desire to overturn Roe v. Wade. Per ABC:
In 2005, 42 percent of Americans said the Supreme Court should make it harder to get an abortion while just 11 percent said it should make it easier. Today, 30 percent say the court should make it harder – down 12 points – and 21 percent say it should make it easier, up 10. Forty-five percent favor no change, the same now as then.
The drop in the view that the court should restrict abortion access is especially steep in several groups – down 16 points among women and Democrats alike, 18 points among moderates, 19 points among white Catholics and 20 points among liberals. There’s virtually no change, by comparison, among Republicans, conservatives and white Protestants, evangelical or not.
Still, and perhaps surprisingly, there’s less-than-sweeping support for a tougher approach to abortion even among traditionally anti-abortion groups. Fifty-eight percent of evangelical white Protestants say the high court should make it harder to get an abortion; it’s about the same among conservatives and Republicans alike. By contrast, just three in 10 non-evangelical white Protestants, or white Catholics, agree.
The Politico/Morning Consult poll shows that Democratic women are clearly leading the charge against Kavanaugh, while their male cohorts are, well, less helpful. Just 11% of Democratic leaning women want Kavanaugh confirmed, versus 54% opposed. There is little change to the opposition among Democratic men, at 52% opposed, but double the amount want to see Kavanaugh confirmed at 22%. Perhaps surprisingly, this dynamic does not extend to independent women, as more want to see Kavanaugh take a seat on the Supreme Court (26%) than do not (18%). That said, the prevailing sentiment among women who do not identify with either party is “don’t know/no opinion” at a whopping 56%—the largest proportion of “don’t know/no opinion” of any demographic in the poll’s detailed breakdown.
There is a lot to dive through in both the ABC/WaPo and Politico/Morning Consult poll, so I won’t waste your time going through every quirk but I’ll leave you with this stat that jumped out at me: a higher proportion of Romney 2012 voters (69%) want to see Kavanaugh confirmed than Trump 2016 voters (66%). My takeaway is this means that Brett Kavanaugh is emblematic of establishment Republicans, proving once again that Donald Trump is the Republican Party and the Republican Party is Donald Trump. There is no stark policy difference between the two, and you should keep that in mind when you go to vote at the polls this November (and if you’re not registered to vote, do so right now, or you’re abdicating your most basic responsibility as a citizen).
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.