53% back fur­ther probe of Ka­vanaugh

The Washington Post - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY ROBERT BARNES AND EMILY GUSKIN robert.barnes@wash­post.com emily.guskin@wash­post.com Mike DeBo­nis con­trib­uted to this re­port

More Amer­i­cans dis­ap­prove of Brett M. Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion to the Supreme Court than ap­prove, and a nar­row ma­jor­ity says con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the new jus­tice should not end with his el­e­va­tion to the court, ac­cord­ing to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The Se­nate’s 50-to-48 vote last week to ap­prove the 53-year-old Ka­vanaugh’s life­time ap­point­ment was the clos­est on a Supreme Court jus­tice since the 1880s, and the poll shows the pub­lic’s re­ac­tion was al­most as di­vided.

It also sug­gests the tu­mul­tuous bat­tle over his nom­i­na­tion could harm the court’s rep­u­ta­tion as the non­par­ti­san branch of gov­ern­ment.

The sur­vey, con­ducted dur­ing Ka­vanaugh’s first week on the bench, shows that 43 per­cent of Amer­i­cans believe the court’s rul­ings will be more po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated with Pres­i­dent Trump’s sec­ond nom­i­nee on the court, com­pared with 10 per­cent who said they will be less po­lit­i­cal. To 39 per­cent of the pub­lic, Ka­vanaugh’s pres­ence will make no dif­fer­ence in the de­gree of par­ti­san­ship.

Asked how the Ka­vanaugh de­bate would af­fect their midterm vote, slightly more say it makes them more in­clined to sup­port Democrats for Congress than Repub­li­cans. Women say the episode draws them to­ward Democrats over Repub­li­cans by a 16-point mar­gin, while men are more evenly split.

While many of the results in the poll fall along familiar par­ti­san lines, it also found that po­lit­i­cal in­de­pen­dents are more sus­pi­cious than sup­port­ive of the new jus­tice. Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, 55 per­cent of in­de­pen­dents say there should be fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Ka­vanaugh, while 40 per­cent are op­posed.

The stakes were high, and the party-line fight over Ka­vanaugh was bru­tal. It was marked by al­le­ga­tions of ex­ces­sive drink­ing in high school and col­lege and of a teenage sex­ual as­sault and other mis­con­duct. Democrats at his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing fur­ther ac­cused Ka­vanaugh of dis­hon­esty over his an­swers to ques­tions re­gard­ing his work in the Ge­orge W. Bush White House.

Repub­li­can sen­a­tors said the al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct were un­cor­rob­o­rated and vi­cious, the re­sult of des­per­ate at­tempts from Democrats and lib­eral groups to keep Ka­vanaugh — for 12 years a re­spected con­ser­va­tive judge on the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the D.C. Cir­cuit — off the high court.

At a White House cer­e­mony Mon­day night, Trump apol­o­gized to the new jus­tice for “the ter­ri­ble pain and suf­fer­ing” he and his fam­ily were “forced to en­dure.” He said Ka­vanaugh had been found “in­no­cent” of the charges against him, even though the sen­a­tors came to no such de­ter­mi­na­tion.

The poll sug­gests dis­agree­ment with Trump’s view that Ka­vanaugh had been ex­on­er­ated, and it does not sup­port the no­tion of a na­tional back­lash against the at­tacks on Ka­vanaugh, as some Repub­li­cans have sug­gested.

Rather, the results show the po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences may be more mixed.

Slightly more reg­is­tered vot­ers say the Ka­vanaugh con­fir­ma­tion pro­ceed­ings make them more likely to sup­port Democrats for Congress than Repub­li­cans in the up­com­ing midterm elec­tions, though a 39 per­cent plu­ral­ity says it does not make a dif­fer­ence.

There is a gen­der gap: By 40 per­cent to 24 per­cent, women say the de­bate makes them more likely to back Demo­cratic than Repub­li­can can­di­dates. Men are more evenly split, with 30 per­cent more likely to back Repub­li­cans and 25 per­cent more likely to back Democrats.

Among in­de­pen­dents, women by a mar­gin of 37 per­cent to 12 per­cent say the con­fir­ma­tion process has made them more likely to sup­port Democrats than Repub­li­cans. In­de­pen­dent men are near-evenly split with 22 per­cent say­ing it made them more likely to sup­port Democrats vs. 24 per­cent for Repub­li­cans.

Par­ti­sans ap­pear more dug in af­ter the Ka­vanaugh de­bate, with 65 per­cent of Repub­li­cans say­ing it mo­ti­vates them more to sup­port the GOP and 66 per­cent of Democrats say­ing they are more mo­ti­vated to back their own party. There are no sig­nif­i­cant gen­der dif­fer­ences among Democrats and Repub­li­cans on the is­sue.

Look­ing back at the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ings, half of Amer­i­cans do not think the Se­nate did enough to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions that Ka­vanaugh com­mit­ted sex­ual mis­con­duct in high school and col­lege, while 41 per­cent say it did do enough. Sig­nif­i­cantly more women say the com­mit­tee’s ac­tions were de­fi­cient — 56 per­cent vs. 43 per­cent.

Rep. Jer­rod Nadler (N.Y.), the rank­ing Demo­crat on the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, has said he will open an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Ka­vanaugh if the Democrats win con­trol of the House in Novem­ber and he be­comes com­mit­tee chair­man. But Democrats have seemed less ea­ger to im­peach the jus­tice, with House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) this week telling the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle that vot­ers care less about tar­get­ing a sit­ting Supreme Court jus­tice for re­moval and more “about how we are go­ing to make their lives bet­ter.”

The Post-ABC poll finds 53 per­cent of Amer­i­cans sup­port fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Ka­vanaugh by Congress, while 43 per­cent are op­posed. That mar­gin nar­rows among reg­is­tered vot­ers, with 50 per­cent in sup­port of fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion and 45 per­cent op­posed.

The split over fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion closely mir­rors Amer­i­cans’ over­all sup­port for the Se­nate’s de­ci­sion to con­firm him. By 51 per­cent to 41 per­cent, more adults dis­ap­prove than ap­prove of Ka­vanaugh’s Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion.

White evan­gel­i­cal Protes­tant vot­ers are among the groups most likely to sup­port Repub­li­can can­di­dates af­ter the de­bate over con­fir­ma­tion, with 64 per­cent say­ing they are more likely to sup­port Repub­li­cans. A 41 per­cent plu­ral­ity of white Catholics say it does not make a dif­fer­ence, while 36 per­cent say they are now more likely to sup­port Repub­li­cans and 23 per­cent more likely to sup­port Democrats.

More than 8 in 10 Repub­li­cans ap­prove of the con­fir­ma­tion over­all, while a sim­i­lar per­cent­age of Democrats dis­ap­prove.

There are sig­nif­i­cant gen­der dif­fer­ences, with men nar­rowly ap­prov­ing of Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion (48 per­cent ap­prove, 43 per­cent dis­ap­prove), while women dis­ap­prove of Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion by a 23point mar­gin (58 per­cent to 35 per­cent).

The Post-ABC poll was con­ducted by tele­phone Mon­day through Thurs­day among a ran­dom na­tional sam­ple of 1,144 adults, in­clud­ing 991 reg­is­tered vot­ers. The mar­gin of sam­pling er­ror for the results over­all and the sam­ple of reg­is­tered vot­ers is plus or mi­nus 3.5 per­cent­age points. Er­ror mar­gins are larger among sub­groups.

JABIN BOTSFORD/THE WASHINGTON POST

Jus­tice Brett M. Ka­vanaugh lis­tens as Pres­i­dent Trump speaks dur­ing his White House swear­ing-in cer­e­mony on Mon­day.

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