Independents disapprove of Democrats' handling

After a blistering confirmation battle, Justice Brett Kavanaugh will take his seat for oral arguments on the U.S. Supreme Court with a skeptical public, a majority of which opposed his nomination. However, Democrats may not be able to exploit this fact in the upcoming elections as much as they hope, because the independent voters overwhelmingly disapprove of their own handling of the nomination by a 28-point margin, a new CNN/SSRS poll finds.

Overall, just 41 percent of those polled said they wanted to see Kavanaugh confirmed, compared to 51 percent who said they opposed his confirmation. In previous CNN polls dating back to Robert Bork in 1987, no nominee has been more deeply underwater.

What's interesting, however, is even though Democrats on the surface would seem to have public opinion on their side, just 36 percent approved of how they handled the nomination, compared to 56 percent who disapproved. (Republicans were at 55 percent disapproval and 35 percent approval). A further breakdown finds that 58 percent of independents disapproved of the way the Democrats handled the nomination — compared to 30 percent who approved. (Independents also disapproved of Republicans handling of the matter, but by a narrower 53 percent to 32 percent margin).

Many people have strong opinions on the way the Kavanaugh nomination will play out in November and who it will benefit. The conventional wisdom is that it will help Democrats in the House, where there are a number of vulnerable Republicans in suburban districts where losses among educated women could be devastating, and that it will help Republicans in the Senate, where the tossup races are in red states where Trump and Kavanaugh are more popular.

That said, it's clear that the nomination energized both sides, and that the tactics pursued by the parties turned off independent voters in a way that makes it much harder to predict how this will end up affecting election outcomes. 

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