After Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court over the weekend, many observers are wondering what impact the politically-charged event will have on the midterm-elections.
In the aftermath of the confirmation, headlines from mainstream media giants like Politico, CNN, and MSNBC, echo the same message: Democrats will benefit most in the midterms, energized by outrage. Some Democrats may indeed, if they’re appealing to a select segment of voters, but the Kavanaugh issue is more nuanced than a discussion of sexual assault allegations failing to stop the nominee’s ascension to the Supreme Court. The flip side of the debate centers around issues of due process, lack of convincing evidence, and the damage of false sexual assault allegations.
A new national poll of over a thousand voters that Market Research Foundation commissioned from the nonpartisan research group ORC International, demonstrates voters are very aware of the nuances at play in the Kavanaugh debate. Key segments of voters are deeply concerned about individuals being lambasted in the court of public opinion when evidence is minimal or nonexistent. Most notably, those ready to believe someone is guilty regardless of evidence tend to be lower educated. As education rises, agreement with this framework drops.
One of the key questions on the survey asked voters to indicate their level of agreement/disagreement with the following statement, which — radical as it may sound — is essentially the rallying cry of Judge Kavanaugh’s most vocal opponents: “We should always believe a woman’s claim of sexual assault even if the details and evidence are lacking.”
Thankfully for anyone fond of due process and the rule of law and perhaps a surprise to CNN and MSNBC, agreement with the statement is relatively low. Sixty-four percent of respondents disagreed with that statement, versus 36% who agreed. Closely following the SCOTUS hearing that agreement dropped to just 33%, perhaps as a result of spectators realizing just how little evidence actually existed.
Males were more likely to disagree with the statement, but a significant share of females weren’t ready to throw out due process either. Sixty-eight percent of men and 61% of women disagreed. Agreement with the statement fell for those with higher education, families with children – especially teens – and older voters.
- 67% of households with children disagreed with the statement compared to 63% of those without children.
- Disagreement rose to 69% for households with children ages thirteen to seventeen.
- Larger households were more likely to say they ‘somewhat disagreed’ with the statement. 30% of households with three or more somewhat disagreed, versus 27% of households with one individual and 29% of households with two.
- By generation, 68% of Baby Boomers disagreed with the statement, versus 67% of Gen X and 60% of millennials.
Notably, only 35% of respondents with a college degree agreed with the statement, versus 38% of those with a high school education or less. Fourteen percent of respondents with a degree very strongly agreed, versus 16% of those with a high school education or less. Below is a comparison of levels of agreement with the statement by education level.
On the flipside, 65% of college graduates disagreed with the statement, versus 62% of those with a high school education or less. Thirty-five percent of college graduates very strongly disagreed, versus 32% of those with a high school education or less. Below is a comparison of levels of disagreement with the statement by education level.
A similarly worded assertion yielded even more significant levels of support by education level. The survey asked voters to indicate their agreement/disagreement with the following statement: “There is no defense against an accusation of sexual assault. The victim is always believed even if evidence says otherwise and the reputation of the accused person is permanently damaged.” Again, rather harsh statement, but entirely relevant to define sentiment in the current political climate. For this statement, agreement again dropped with education level. Fifty-six percent of those with a high school education or less agreed, versus just 47% for college graduates. Twelve percent of those with a high school education or less very strongly agreed, versus just 9% of college graduates. Below is a comparison of levels of agreement with the statement by education level.
On the flip side, 44% of those with a high school education or less disagreed, compared to 53% of college grads who disagreed. Twenty-one percent of those with a high school education or less very strongly disagreed, versus a full 30% of college graduates who very strongly disagreed. Below is a comparison of levels of disagreement with the statement by education level.
These findings underscore the fact that while the Kavanaugh confirmation may indeed energize angry voters who either believe he is guilty, or believe it doesn’t matter if he is guilty, it also shows voters are not ready to abandon due process. Especially if they’ve graduated from college.
How will this play in the midterms? Midterm voters are historically more educated than those who only vote in Presidential Election years, and with this segment roundly rejecting the idea that evidence isn’t required to convict someone of a crime, the case made against Kavanaugh’s confirmation could be a hard-sell to these voters.