Michigan voters narrowly oppose Kavanaugh nomination

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.

A new poll finds that Michigan voters by a narrow margin oppose the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, following riveting testimony last week from Kavanaugh and one of the women accusing him of sexual misconduct.

The survey conducted this week of 600 likely voters found that 40 percent approve of Kavanaugh’s selection and 45 percent oppose it, with 15 percent saying they are undecided.

More:McConnell sets Friday test vote on Kavanaugh nomination

The poll, conductedSept. 30 to Oct. 2 for The Detroit News and WDIV, had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

Opinion on Kavanaugh shifted from a month ago when a poll of Michigan voters showed them split on Kavanaugh, with about 36 percent in support, 39 percent opposed, and 25 percent undecided. 

"Compared with the September poll, this went from a sleepy nomination to a very intense, partisan nomination right now. That’s the difference we’ve seen in the last four weeks because of the allegations," said Richard Czuba, who conducted the poll for the Lansing-based Glengariff Group Inc. 

Over 90 percent of respondents had heard of the allegations made by three women against Kavanaugh. Most Republican senators argue the accusations are uncorroborated, while nearly all Democratic senators have said they believe Ford.

One of the women, Christine Blasey Ford, testified last week before a Senate panel about her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school in the summer of 1982.

Christine Blasey Ford testified that Brett Kavanaugh trapped her on a bed and tried to undress her, grinding his body against her and muffling her cries with her hand. "I believed he was going to rape me," she said in her opening statement.

Kavanaugh also testified, vehemently denying her claim and blasting Senate Democrats for smearing his name.

"As I look at this whole survey, it strikes me that this battle isn’t changing anyone’s mind when it comes to the election. It’s more an issue of everyone taking to their corners," Czuba said. 

Men and women largely view the allegations differently, according to the survey. 

Forty-eight percent of women said they believe Kavanaugh’s accusers, with 30 percent saying they believe Kavanaugh. About 21 percent of women were unsure.

"Whereas men are relatively split. Particularly Republican men very strongly believe Brett Kavanaugh," Czuba said.

"Women strongly believe the women coming forward. And a lot of people on the sidelines are undecided — 1 in 4 don’t know who to believe."

Independent voters said they believe the accusers over Kavanaugh by a margin of 28 percent to 34 percent. The polling of 544 voters who had heard the allegations had a margin of error of plus-minus 4.2 percentage points.

Kavanaugh, 53, has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for 12 years and previously served as an aide to President George W. Bush.

Trump nominated him July 9 to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court over federal appeals Judge Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, who was among the finalists considered. 



Kavanaugh nomination 

Support 40.3%

Oppose 44.7%

Undecided 15%

Note: Numbers may not total 100 percent because of rounding. Poll of 600 likely Michigan voters had margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

Source: Glengariff Group