WASHINGTON – The fierce battle to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh hasn’t turned into an electoral advantage for Republicans so far, according to a CNN poll that found Democrats with a large lead headed into November midterm elections.
In a generic ballot match-up, likely voters favored the Democratic Party’s candidate for Congress 54 percent to 41 percent over the GOP candidate, according to the poll. That’s little changed from September, when the same poll found 52 percent of voters favored Democratic candidates for Congress.
Democrats have a 30-point lead with women voters, 63 percent to 33 percent, the poll found. Men favor Democrats by only about 5 points, 50 percent to 45 percent. The survey was conducted by telephone Oct. 4-7 and had a 3.8 percent margin of error.
The poll is one of the first national surveys to be released that was conducted just as senators were voting on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Republican strategists and President Donald Trump have argued that Democrats’ efforts to slow the judge’s confirmation have electrified GOP voters, increasing their enthusiasm to retain control of Congress. Polling so far suggests that is not the case.
Instead, enthusiasm has increased among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, with 62 percent of registered Democrats describing themselves as “very” or “extremely” enthusiastic to vote — 7 points more than a month ago. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, enthusiasm was up 3 points from September to 53 percent.
But in one encouraging finding for Republicans, the poll found that more voters expect Republicans to control Congress after the midterms. Fifty percent of those surveyed said Republicans would retain the majority, compared to 34 percent who said Democrats would take over. That’s a 2-point improvement since September for Republicans and a 6-point decline for Democrats — more voters also described themselves as having no opinion, compared to the September survey.
Just 4 percent said the parties would split control of Congress, the outcome that’s considered most likely by many analysts.
Democrats need a net gain of 23 House seats to gain control of the chamber and there are more than 60 districts in play, based on independent analysts and polling.
Ten of the 26 Democratic senators up for re-election are from states Trump won in 2016. Republicans are defending just nine Senate seats, and only one, Nevada, is in a state Democrat Hillary Clinton won two years ago.
The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS and reached a random national sample of 1,009 adults.