[46 percent] - A substantial plurality of Americans haven't drawn any conclusion about the credibility of decades-old allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, according to a new national poll. Nearly half of respondents either say they don't have enough information to render a judgment on the question, or simply do not know. As I noted on Twitter, the other half of respondents split almost evenly down the middle:
YouGov/Politico poll: Is the allegation against Kavanaugh credible? A significant plurality says they don't know or haven't heard enough to say. Cred/Non cred respondents split almost evenly (26/28)... pic.twitter.com/Jplu3IRJCL— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 21, 2018
On the threshold question of whether voters want to see Kavanaugh confirmed, it's an exact tie (32/32) among those who have an opinion. A slight plurality -- 36 percent -- aren't sure. Another pollster asked a different question about the allegations. The responses were interesting:
We surveyed 1,614 Americans after the Kavanaugh allegations surfaced. The public finds the accusation credible, but many say it isn't disqualifying. pic.twitter.com/xo1Z0zl9vP— Echelon (@EchelonInsights) September 19, 2018
Just over one-third of respondents said the allegation was either untrue or not disqualifying, just under one-third said they believed it was true and disqualifying, and exactly one-third had no opinion. There's a reason why Kavanaugh opponents -- nearly every single one of whom was already against his confirmation before this lone, unsubstantiated claim was leveled against him -- are going out of their way to assert their belief in the accuser's story, and characterize her allegation as "credible." It's an obvious messaging strategy. The truth is that virtually nobody on the planet has any idea whether her claim is true, and it's very difficult to assess credibility when no contemporaneous corroboration exists, and when there are no similar accusations lodged against the target. Distressingly, many within the anti-Kavanaugh crowd don't seem remotely interested in any details or facts, advancing dangerous, totalitarian arguments against him. On Fox last night, a representative of the Professional Left, whose career has largely entailed attacking conservative judges, flat-out said on-air that the burden is on the accused. I quickly pushed back, noting that our system (quite rightly) doesn't work that way, and asking how Kavanaugh could possibly meet her egregious standard to her satisfaction. I never got an answer:
As I said during the segment, some of the conditions set forth by Prof. Ford's attorneys are fairly reasonable, while others are absolutely not. Pushing the testimony to later in the week is fine by me (so long as the time frame isn't indefinite), ample security measures are a no-brainer, and wanting to hear from the only alleged third party eyewitness isn't crazy or unfair. Dictating who gets to ask questions is ridiculous; liberals have been whining about 11 white men interrogating Ford, so the GOP is considering having a respected female counsel ask their questions. It's almost as if liberals want to corner Republicans into bad optics, playing the identity politics game, then objecting to a completely sensible plan to take that issue off the table. Also, it's totally outrageous on its face to ask the accused party to go first, then have the accusations formally leveled against him second. That demand is a nonstarter, and is correctly being treated as such, apparently.
One last point on this topic: Since so much of this is a battle over optics and appearances (because real facts are so scarce, and each side's efforts to add new "facts" have blown up in their faces), it does not look good that Ford's attorneys were slated to headline a Senate Democratic fundraiser in a few weeks. Once that event got sniffed out, they canceled it, which only highlights the problematic conflict. And the adviser Ford has engaged to prepare for her testimony is a hardcore Democratic strategist who was personally involved in the Anita Hill strategy, and is on tape back in July plotting to "Bork" Brett Kavanaugh's nomination one way or another. Ford's defenders insist that this is just a woman telling her truth about a very serious incident, and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with politics (setting aside Ford's own track record of progressive politics). For a lot of people who are already deeply suspicious of the timing and nature of this accusation, Ford surrounding herself with a team of aggressive partisans, especially this one, makes the 'nonpartisan' spin exceedingly difficult to accept.
 - In case you missed it, there was a major upset in a Texas State Senate race this week. Since we've been tracking Democrats' major gains (in victories and increased vote share) in special and off-year elections since Donald Trump was elected, we'd be remiss not to highlight this outcome. It's just one data point in a sea of them, but this is not what blue waves are made of:
Voters elected political newcomer Pete Flores to the Texas Senate on Tuesday, flipping a Democratic district red for the first time in 139 years and bolstering Republicans’ supermajority in the chamber ahead of the November elections. A retired game warden, Flores defeated former state and U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego for the Senate District 19 seat after receiving backing from some of the state’s most prominent politicians, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and U.S. Sens John Cornyn and Ted Cruz...“This district has not been Republican since Reconstruction. And in September of 2018, it’s Republican once again,” Flores told supporters. “The work starts tomorrow.” Christian Archer, Gallego’s campaign strategist, said he was shocked by the results, adding that they weren’t able to generate as much excitement as the Republicans.
How's this for an unsparing headline? The happiest person in America about this result (aside from the victor, and possibly Ted Cruz) is incumbent Republican Congressman Will Hurd, whom Democrats are hoping to knock off. The State Senate district won by Flores heavily overlaps with his federal district. This week's result affirms his fairly strong position in a district that should, on paper, be a top candidate for Dems to flip:
Rep. Will Hurd leads Gina Ortiz Jones in race for key Texas 'swing district,' poll shows https://t.co/IEiWDEc4WZ— Gromer M. Jeffers (@gromerjeffers) September 12, 2018
[44 percent] - A somewhat off-the-radar Senate race this cycle is Montana's, where the conventional wisdom has been that Sen. Jon Tester is a pretty safe bet for re-election. But a handful of polls show the contest as quite competitive, and the NRSC has been pushing back against that narrative. Their internal data demonstrates why:
How might a possible (likely?) Tester vote against Brett Kavanaugh play in his state? After all, he rubber-stamped anti-gun judges under Obama, but has been a good soldier for Chuck Schumer in the Trump era -- even taking the radical step of voting to both filibuster and defeat Justice Gorsuch. National Republicans are turning up the heat on Tester:
In Missouri, to the surprise of nobody, liberal Claire McCaskill has announced her 'no' vote on Kavanaugh this week. Of the major red state Democrats up for re-election this year, McCaskill has made the least effort to even pretend that she's a moderate, at least in terms of her voting record. And since we're on the subject of tight Senate races, here's Mike Braun's new TV spot in Indiana:
[$52,701] - The New York Times got hammered for its bogus hit piece on US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, which falsely implied that she'd spent lavishly on interior decorations -- when, in fact, the questionable five-figure purchase of curtains was approved during the Obama administration. Haley's job approval rating is sky high as she represents America at Turtle Bay, making her one of the most popular figures in the Trump administration (and national political figures generally), by far. Yes, this number will come back down to earth if and when she rejoins the partisan fray, but it's impressive nonetheless. Here's Haley discussing the Times whiff with Martha MacCallum:
[Five Percent] - Democrats: Believe women!*
New polling out of Minnesota sheds some light about how voters feel about Democratic congressman Keith Ellison. According to The Minnesota Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio News, a poll of 800 likely voters have Ellison leading against Republican candidate Doug Wardlow in the state race for attorney general 41-36...When asked, “Do you believe her allegation, or not?” 21% of voters say they believe her while 22% say they don’t. 57% of likely voters say they aren’t sure. But when that question is broken down by party, the numbers take sharp turns. 42% of Republicans say they believe Monahan while 15% don’t and 43% aren’t sure. Among Democrats, only 5% believe his accuser while 30% dismiss the allegation.
The allegations against Ellison are much more recent, and include much, much more contemporaneous evidence than the 36-year-old claim about Brett Kavanaugh: "Four people, including my supervisor at the time, stated that I came to them after and shared the exact story I shared publicly, I shared multiple text between me and Keith, where I discuss the abuse with him and much more. As I said before, I knew I wouldn't be believed.” Ellison is the deputy chairman of the Democratic Party.
Wesley Ryan used to be known around San Antonio for his beloved 1993 Ford Mustang, which he called Christine. He named the iconic car after the 1983 move of the same name, and his daughter says the hot-rod was the way to his heart. About 12 years ago, Wesley had to part with Christine. His wife, Laura, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and needed surgery. "Medical bills were piling up," Wesley and Laura's daughter, Jeni, told CBS News. "My dad without hesitation posted his car for sale and within two days, someone came and got it and that tore my dad into pieces." ... She and her brother, Jake, were just kids at the time, but they knew how important the Mustang was to their dad. Now that they're adults, they can truly understand the sacrifices he made for their family, and they wanted to find some small way to make it up to him. They decided to find the original Christine and buy it back for their devoted father...They had their dad stand up in front of the Ford Mustang and took the blindfold off of him. He was immediately overcome with emotion...The touching video shows Wesley crying then giving each of his kids and Julian a big hug. He walks over to Christine and leans his head on the car as he sheds more tears of joy.