News & Politics

Here's Why Kavanaugh's Nomination Could Deal a Fatal Blow to the GOP's Midterm Election Chances

Kavanaugh's support is collapsing. That's bad news for any Republican who was hoping to run on his confirmation.

Photo Credit: CBS

On Thursday, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll contained some very bad news for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The poll, conducted entirely after California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her sexual assault allegation, shows that just 34 percent of Americans support confirming Kavanaugh, as opposed to 38 percent of Americans who oppose the nomination.

This marks the first time this polling outfit has ever found a Supreme Court nominee underwater. For comparison, even Harriet Miers, former President George W. Bush's 2005 Supreme Court nominee who went down in flames amid scrutiny of her basic ignorance of constitutional law and distrust from conservative groups, earned a net 6 point positive approval during her proceedings.

Given the Republican Party's fanatical desperation to stack the courts with friendly partisans, polls are unlikely to have much influence on whether or not he is confirmed. However, it is a stark warning sign for the GOP.

Republicans had long hoped for another Supreme Court vacancy this year, not just because it would give them an opening to tilt the judiciary to the right, but because they wanted to use it as a cudgel against Democrats. Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, for example, said in March that he believed it would turn out voters and help them turn back a potential midterm loss. And other Senate candidates, like Josh Hawley in Missouri, have been trying to hang opposition to Kavanaugh around Democrats' necks.

Unfortunately for the GOP, the new poll shows that the sharpest drop for Kavanaugh's numbers is with independents — net support for his confirmation is down 43 points with independent men, and 14 points with independent women (who were divided on the nomination to begin with):

As a consequence, any effect this nomination might have on energizing the Republican base could come at a heavy cost. And things could get even worse, as the sexual assault allegations and the Senate Judiciary Republicans' attempts to shove them aside draw increasingly angry and visible public protests. Over 50 people were arrested at Senate offices on Capitol Hill today while demonstrating against Kavanaugh.

Republicans got what they wanted in an election year Supreme Court fight. But so far, it is not turning out the way they planned.

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Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.