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Trump's Supreme Court pick struggles to gain public support

Donald Trump is convinced his Supreme Court nominee enjoys broad support. Independent polling on Kavanaugh points in a very different direction.
US Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks after being nominated by US President Donald Trump (L) to the Supreme Court in the East Room of the White House on July 9,...

In mid-July, Donald Trump boasted about the popularity of his Supreme Court nominee. "Brett Kavanaugh has gotten rave reviews -- rave reviews – actually, from both sides," the president said. "And I think it's going to be a beautiful thing to watch over the next month. But he has gotten rave reviews."

Well, it's been a month. It's unlikely Trump considers the latest polling a beautiful thing.

Donald Trump's second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, receives a cooler public reception than nearly every nominee for the last four administrations, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. Women are a driving force behind the tepid response, with fewer than three in 10 saying Kavanaugh ought to be confirmed.Overall, 37% of Americans say they'd like to see the Senate vote in favor of his confirmation. Kavanaugh's support is the lowest in polling dating back to Robert Bork's nomination by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. That's lower support for Kavanaugh than similar public assessments of the unsuccessful nominations of Merrick Garland and Harriet Miers....

A plurality in the CNN poll said they do not want the Senate to confirm the conservative jurist. Kavanaugh's support among women was especially low: only 28% support his confirmation.

In fairness, it's worth noting that there are other polls, and Kavanaugh fares marginally better in the latest Quinnipiac poll, which was released yesterday.

That said, all of the recent polling -- CNN, Quinnipiac, Marist, Pew Research Center, and Gallup -- points to unusually and unexpectedly weak support for the current high-court nominee.

As for why Kavanaugh's support is weak, and whether it'll matter, the questions get a little tricky.

On the former, as we recently discussed, there are a variety of possible explanations. It's easy to imagine, for example, that Donald Trump is unpopular, so his Supreme Court nominee is unpopular simply by virtue of the association.

But my best guess is that much of the recent coverage has focused on the likely consequences of Kavanaugh's confirmation -- including, among other things, the expected demise of the Roe v. Wade precedent -- and much of the public is understandably concerned about the dramatic changes a newly emboldened, far-right Supreme Court might impose.

As for whether public attitudes will matter or not, it certainly can't hurt the progressive push to derail the process, or at least slow it down. Senators who find themselves on the fence about Kavanaugh might consider, at a minimum, the public's wishes.

The better question, however, is just how many senators may find themselves on the fence.