A Quinnipiac poll released on Monday provides Republicans little cheer:
“With wide gender, racial and partisan gaps, and a shift in support among independent voters, 48 percent of American voters say the U.S. Senate should not confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, as 42 percent say Kavanaugh should be confirmed, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today.
“This compares to the results of a September survey … showing 41 percent of American voters supporting a Kavanaugh confirmation, with 42 percent opposed. Independent voters, who supported Kavanaugh 45-39 percent September 10, oppose his confirmation 49-39 percent today.
“Women oppose confirmation 55-37 percent, while men support it 49-40 percent.”
Now not all voters who oppose Kavanaugh will vote in the midterms, nor will they necessarily vote for Democrats, but given the GOP’s growing problem with women and independent voters, these numbers cannot be reassuring.
The Pew Research poll, also released on Monday, doesn’t offer much relief to Republicans, either. Voters (especially women) view President Trump — who’s become synonymous with the GOP — negatively. The poll results suggest:
“Just 24 percent of Americans say Trump is even-tempered, while nearly three times as many (70%) say that description does not apply to him. Fewer than half say that Trump is a strong leader (43 percent), well-informed (38 percent), empathetic (36 percent) or trustworthy (34 percent. … Trump’s overall job rating stands at 38 percent and remains deeply divided by gender, race and educational attainment. While men are divided in views of Trump’s job performance (46 percent approve, 47 percent disapprove), more than twice as many women disapprove (63 percent) than approve (30 percent).”
There are slivers of good news here and there for Republicans. (Strangely, 68 percent say he “stands up for what he believe in.” Perhaps the questions should have ended with “at any given moment.”)
Women aren’t the only segment of the electorate who don’t like Trump, but they are likely the biggest. The Pew poll continues: “Large majorities of blacks (84 percent) and Hispanics (71 percent) disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job. Whites are evenly split in their views. Younger adults are more likely to disapprove of the president’s job performance than older adults. And those with higher levels of education are more critical of how he is handling his job than those with lower levels of education.” Trump still has evangelical Christians in his corner (67 percent approve, 27 percent disapprove), but one cannot construct an electoral majority with only them, especially outside the South where their numbers are lower.
Perhaps most interesting, Republicans may have blown it by sticking so closely to an unpopular president:
“Overall, 57 percent of Republicans say that Republicans in Congress ‘do not have an obligation to support Trump’s policies and programs if they disagree with him’; 39 percent say they ‘do have an obligation to do this because Trump is a Republican president.’”
In other words, Republicans might have been able to put more distance between themselves and Trump without losing that many Republicans. Instead, they’ve wrapped their arms around someone intensely disliked by a large majority of voters. If, for example, the GOP-controlled House had actually passed new sexual-harassment rules, or if the GOP-controlled Senate had backed off Kavanaugh or once, just once, rebuked Trump for his remarks about and toward women, Republicans may not have scared off so many women voters. As the image of the Republican Party as one of bullies and misogynists gets reinforced day after day, the GOP may have a tough time winning back women, no matter what its policy choices.
If Republicans lose big in November, Trump will, no doubt, blame the party for not embracing him even more strongly (as well as blame GOP voters for not showing up, which he is already citing as a possible excuse should Republicans get trounced). Perhaps when the dust settles after next month’s midterm elections, Republicans will have a chance to count their losses and see which groups have abandoned them. Then they might reconsider whether it is possible to maintain majority support for a party perceived as unfriendly — if not downright hostile — to nonwhites and women.
If Republicans persist with policies that have little appeal outside white evangelicals and white males, and if they continue to imitate Trump’s belligerent style (I’m looking at you, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham) — which women, in particular, find so off-putting — 2018 may be first of many disappointing election days.
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion from a center-right perspective for The Washington Post.
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