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Kavanaugh isn't popular with Middle America

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Brett Kavanaugh
Judge Brett Kavanaugh speaks in the East Room of the White House on July 9 after being nominated by President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court. Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — For all of the talk and evidence of how the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has fired up voters in the reddest of red states, our three NBC/Marist polls this week of Nevada, Minnesota and Wisconsin show that he’s not popular with the middle of the country.

The polls asked the same question: Are you more likely to vote for a candidate who opposed the Kavanaugh pick? Or one who supported it? And here were the responses from all three states, which are holding competitive Senate, gubernatorial and House races.


  • Opposed the Kavanaugh pick: 41 percent
  • Supported the Kavanaugh pick: 38 percent
  • No difference: 18 percent


  • Opposed the Kavanaugh pick: 48 percent
  • Supported the Kavanaugh pick: 30 percent
  • No difference: 19 percent


  • Opposed the Kavanaugh pick: 42 percent
  • Supported the Kavanaugh pick: 33 percent
  • No difference: 22 percent

What’s more, independent voters in all three states break for the candidate opposing Kavanaugh — 36 percent to 32 percent in Nevada; 47 percent to 22 percent in Minnesota; and 41 percent to 28 percent in Wisconsin.

Caveat, though: All three polls were in the field (Sept. 30 through Oct. 4) before the vote on Kavanaugh. But they were taken after the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing on September 27.

Scott Walker trails in Wisconsin, per NBC/Marist poll

Earlier this week, we wrote how Trump and the GOP are struggling in Big 10 Country. Well, the NBC/Marist poll of Wisconsin we released yesterday backs that up. “In Wisconsin’s race for governor, Democratic challenger Tony Evers gets support from 53 percent of likely voters in a head-to-head matchup, while Walker gets 43 percent,” one of us writes. “When the ballot is expanded to include the Libertarian and Green Party candidates running for governor, Evers is ahead by 8 points among likely voters, 50 percent to 42 percent.”

“While Walker is facing the most challenging race and political environment of his career, a different poll from Marquette Law School released Wednesday showed the governor ahead by 1 point among likely voters, 47 percent to 46 percent.”

“In Wisconsin’s Senate race, the NBC/Marist poll finds Baldwin getting support from 54 percent of likely voters, and GOP challenger Leah Vukmir getting 40 percent. The Marquette Law poll also showed Baldwin ahead by double digits, 53 percent to 43 percent.”

And: “The NBC/Marist poll also finds 45 percent of likely voters in Wisconsin approving of President Donald Trump’s job performance, while 50 percent disapprove. Among registered voters, 44 percent approve of Trump’s job — up from 36 percent in the July NBC/Marist poll.”

Speaking of Big 10 Country, President Trump holds a rally in Lebanon, Ohio at 7:00 pm ET.

WaPo: Turkish government says audio and video prove journalist was killed inside Saudi consulate

On Thursday, President Trump said his administration was looking at the death/disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi “very strongly.” We wonder if the president and the administration is looking at this, per the Washington Post:

“The Turkish government has told U.S. officials that it has audio and video recordings that prove Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this month, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.”

“The recordings show that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate after he walked in Oct. 2 to obtain an official document before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body, the officials said.”

“The audio recording in particular provides some of the most persuasive and gruesome evidence that the Saudi team is responsible for Khashoggi’s death, the officials said.”

Trump also told reporters yesterday that he opposes any kind of sanctions on Saudi Arabia that stop arms sales to the country. “We have to see what happens, lot of work's been done, don't like stopping massive amounts of money poured in, talking about different kinds of sanctions, military equipment spending,” he said.

It’s worth noting that the Trump administration’s actions and rhetoric toward Canada (over tariffs and NAFTA renegotiation) were more aggressive than its stance toward Saudi Arabia after the death/disappearance of this journalist.

Media companies pull out of Saudi conference

Meanwhile, NBC’s Dylan Byers writes that several journalists and media organizations “are starting to pull out of a high-profile conference in Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi… ‘I’m terribly distressed by the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and reports of his murder,’ Andrew Ross Sorkin, the New York Times columnist and CNBC anchor, tweeted Thursday morning. ‘I will no longer be participating in the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.’”

“Patrick Soon-Shiong, the publisher of The Los Angeles Times, has also decided to skip the event, while the New York Times says it will no longer serve as a media sponsor. Others have yet to confirm their plans for the event: A Fox Business spokesperson told NBC News that the matter was "under review" by the network and its anchor Maria Bartiromo, who is slated to appear.”

Poll: Shalala trails in FL-27

Finally, most of the polls in competitive House districts — especially those in urban and suburban areas — have looked pretty good for Democrats over the past month. But this Mason-Dixon poll of FL-27 in Miami, which Hillary Clinton won by more than 20 points in 2016, isn’t good news for Dems.

Politico on the poll: “Former Clinton Foundation head Donna Shalala is trailing former Spanish-language TV newswoman Maria Elvira Salazar... Salazar’s narrow 2-percentage point lead is well within the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey’s 4-point margin of error. But the result stands in contrast to how the Democratic nominees for Senate and governor are faring in the Miami-based 27th Congressional District — both are ahead of their Republican opponents by 4 points — providing fresh evidence of Shalala’s underperforming campaign.”

“The big factor: Hispanics, who account for 57 percent of the voters and who came to know Salazar relatively well over her three decades broadcasting on Spanish language networks Telemundo, Univision, Mega-TV and CNN Español.”