New polls released on Wednesday showed that Dr. Blasey fared better with the public than Judge Kavanaugh did during last week’s hearing. In a survey for NPR, PBS and Marist College, 45 percent of Americans said they believed she was telling the truth, while 33 percent said he was. Forty-one percent of those who responded to Reuters and Ipsos opposed his confirmation, while 33 percent supported it.
That was the opposite of what happened after Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harassment by Anita F. Hill during his 1991 confirmation hearings, when polls showed more Americans believed him than her. The disparate results reflect the changing national attitude toward sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era when the public has been more receptive to women coming forward with allegations.
With midterm elections less than five weeks away, that has immediate consequences for Mr. Trump and the Republicans. The Cook Political Report, which tracks congressional races, shifted eight more Republican-held House seats on Wednesday in the direction of Democrats as “the Kavanaugh debate further polarizes voters into red and blue corners.” Still, the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that Republicans were more energized about the election than before, possibly owing to the Supreme Court fight.
Until now, the Republican strategy has been to defend Judge Kavanaugh and accuse Democrats of a “con game,” as Mr. Trump has put it, for exploiting Dr. Blasey for partisan gain. Mr. Trump has strayed from that script a couple of times, but largely restrained his more combative instincts when it came to Dr. Blasey. In fact, after last week’s hearing, he called her “a very credible witness” and “a very fine woman” whose testimony was “very compelling.”
But at a rally in Southaven, Miss., on Tuesday night, he pretended to be Dr. Blasey struggling to answer questions during the hearing. “How did you get home? I don’t remember,” he mimicked. “How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.”
White House officials insisted on Wednesday that the president was not mocking Dr. Blasey but “stating the facts,” as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, put it. She expressed indignation at the idea that Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility could be questioned but not Dr. Blasey’s.