CAPS - Harris Poll on Kavanaugh Nomination and Economic Attitudes

October 1, 2018

The September 2018 CAPS -  Harris Poll study features pre- and post- Kavanaugh hearings research, as well as polling on the Russia investigation and economic attitudes. The poll was conducted September 26-27, 2018 among 1,228 registered voters, with a flash poll after the Kavanaugh hearings conducted Sept. 29-30, 2018 among 1,330 Registered Voters.

Political Climate

President Trump’s approval rating – currently 46% -- has remained in the mid-40s since early in 2018. Trump continues to be credited with his work on the economy (57% approve), stimulating jobs (57%), and fighting terrorism (56%). But a majority disapprove of his work in foreign affairs (55%), administering the government (55%), and immigration (53%).

Americans are more likely to say that the country is on the wrong track (53%) than the right one (38%, with 9% unsure); thought the sentiments flips when Americans consider the economy: 48% say the economy is on the right track, 39% wrong track, and 12% are unsure.

On the generic ballot, Democrats retain their lead (currently an 9-point margin over GOP: 45-36). Over the past several months, GOP approval has inched higher and is now (41%) in line with that of Democrat (42%).

Russia Investigation

Voters remain split on whether or not the special counsel has found evidence of collusion – 39% say “found”, 38% say “not found”, and 23% are unsure. A majority of voters continue to believe that the investigation does more to hurt the country (60%) than to help (40%).

American voters want transparency when it comes to how and why the investigation was launched. Sixty-five percent say it’s important to turn over evidence from the FBI and Justice Department to clear the air in how the investigation was started. Two-thirds (65%) of American voters favor an investigation into potential abuses at the FBI; although voters are split on whether or not bias played a role in launching the investigation (52% say bias played a role, 48% say bias didn’t play a role).

Kavanaugh Confirmation (Pre-Testimony)

In the days leading up to the testimony of Dr, Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh before the Senate Judicial Committee, 82% had heard about the sexual harassment allegations and the majority – 60%-- believed the allegations are mostly true (16% think they are definitely true, 44% probably true). Further, most voters (54%) said it is fair for Kavanaugh to have to defend accusations from over 35 years ago.

Voters were split on whether or not they wanted their Senators to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Thirty-six percent wanted their Senator to vote in favor, 38% against, and 26% were not sure.

On aggregate, voters wanted corroborating evidence before calling for Kavanaugh’s withdrawal. Sixty-one percent of voters said that if no corroborating evidence is found that that they would like the nomination to proceed. When asked if the allegations against Kavanaugh are mostly true, 51% of voters still through the nomination should proceed (49% say it should be withdrawn).

Kavanaugh Confirmation (Post-Testimony)

After the testimony, a majority of voters (89%) has watched or heard about the Kavanaugh hearings. Most voters (67%) found Dr. Ford to be a credible witness; 50% also though that Kavanaugh was credible.

Voters remained split on the question of Kavanaugh’s nomination, with a sizeable group of voters still unsure of what they want their Senators to do. Thirty-seven percent of voters said they wanted their Senators to vote in favor, 44% to vote against and 18% were unsure.

Majorities of voters – 66%  the Senate decision to delay the vote by the week and involve the FBI to search for corroborating evidence. If the FBI review finds no corroborating evidence, 60% of voters support the confirmation of Kavanaugh.

A majority of voters believe that Kavanaugh’s confirmation process was politicized and mishandled, with 69% calling it a “national disgrace”. They blame both parties for being partisan, with 54% blaming the Republicans and 55% blaming Democrats. Further, 75% of voters believe that Senator Diana Feinstein should have immediately turned over the letter from Christine Ford to the Senate Judiciary committee in July, when she received it.

The Kavanaugh nomination battle also appears to have further polarized the political environment, with 45% of voters saying they are more likely to vote in the midterm elections. Ultimately, 63% of voters believe Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

Economic Attitudes

The September 2018 survey also includes a deep dive of American economic attitudes 10 years after the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing recession. Today, 75% of voters are concerned about another financial crisis, and voter confidence is split 50-50 in the ability of the Federal Reserve to prevent the next financial crisis. Less than half, 43%, said they believe the Feb and other regulators institutions are strong enough to prevent the next financial crisis. And a full 67% of voters are concerned about the possibility of another economic recession.

At the same time, American voters favor deregulation; 69% support the roll-backs of some Dodd-Frank regulations, and 54% believe the bill is good and will spur lending and economic growth.

For more information on the September poll, go to the CAPS/Harris Poll website for the detailed results, and please visit The Hill ( for first look analysis of all polls.

The CAPS/Harris Poll website will be updated throughout the week with more information about the poll.


The main monthly survey was conducted by The Harris Poll online within the United States from September 26-27, 2018 among 1,228 registered voters.

The follow up flash poll was conducted by The Harris Poll in the U.S. from Sept. 29-30 among 1,330 registered voters.

The results reflect a nationally representative sample. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, and education where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

The poll was supervised by Harvard Professor of Government and CAPS Faculty Director Stephen Ansolabehere, Mark Penn, and Dritan Nesho.

Stephen Ansolabehere has 25 years’ experience conducting survey research and experimental research in the field of political science.

Mark Penn is a former presidential pollster and has 40 years of polling experience.

Dritan Nesho is a fellow at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science and has over 11 years of polling and data analytics experience.