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The Bart O’Kavanaugh Effect


Paul observed recently that “[t]he entire conservative establishment remains outraged about the attempt to block Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.” Irin Carmon discusses a fascinating new study that shows this is also the consensus position among Republican men, even though the typical voter believes Ford:

What they thought, by a margin of 16 points, was that Ford was telling the truth — a number that had gone up by 9 points compared to a poll of 1,111 voters Quinnipiac conducted right after she and Kavanaugh testified. (In 1991, Anita Hill’s testimony that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her actually made people support him more, and one poll indicated Americans believed his account over hers by nearly 20 points.) More than half said they believe Kavanaugh lied under oath about his teenage years; about half have a negative impression of him.

What they did, mostly, was vote for Democrats. Ultimately, PerryUndem concludes that the Kavanaugh hearings may actually have helped Democrats more than Republicans, noting that “feeling unfavorably toward Justice Kavanaugh motivated people to vote for the Democratic candidate for US House of Representatives — above and beyond typical factors, such as party affiliation.” (Although there was a similar effect with people who liked Kavanaugh being motivated to vote for Republicans, the net impact for Democrats may have been greater, because 50 percent of voters said the hearings made them think about how underrepresented women are in government, and were twice as likely to vote for Democrats as a result.)

It turns out, though, that there was a Kavanaugh effect à la Trump’s fulminating — it just mainly existed among Republican men. PerryUndem’s data suggests that the Kavanaugh hearing made Republican men more sexist and less likely to believe women who say they were assaulted. In a 2017 survey the group conducted focusing on #MeToo, 80 percent of Republican men said they were now more likely to believe women making accusations. After Kavanaugh, that number has sunk by 21 points. The Kavanaugh hearing was also more likely to make Republican men think sexism is exaggerated in our society: In 2017, 47 percent of Republican men agreed that “most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist.” A year later, after Kavanaugh, the number jumped to 68 percent. And the number of Republican men who agree that sexism is a problem in our society went down.

The problem is that this minority of sexist dudes is substantially overrepresented in our political institutions.

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