The allegation threw the judge's confirmation into doubt only days before a Senate panel was set to approve him. Senate Republicans have pushed for both Kavanaugh and Ford to testify at a hearing Monday. The accuser's lawyer, as well as many Senate Democrats, have called for a delay until the FBI investigates her claim.
Lawyers for Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee, which handles federal court nominations, that she would testify next week if it can ensure her safety and a fair hearing, according to multiple reports.
Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's second pick for the top U.S. court, is the first Supreme Court nominee dating back to 2005 that a plurality of voters opposed in an NBC/WSJ survey. As 28 percent of respondents said they do not know enough to form an opinion about his confirmation, a potential hearing about the assault accusation next week could alter voters' opinions of Kavanaugh — for better or worse.
A handful of pivotal Senate Republicans and Democrats are currently deciding whether to vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation. If two GOP senators and all members of the Democratic caucus oppose him, the judge's nomination will fail.
Most recent polls have showed a plurality of voters oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday found only 31 percent of adults wanted him on the top U.S. court, versus 36 percent who did not. That survey was taken from Sept. 11 through Monday, so it only partly gathers reaction to the assault claim.
A Gallup survey also found a plurality of voters is against his confirmation. However, that poll suggests opposition to Kavanaugh increased even before Ford went public with her allegation.
Support for Kavanaugh in the NBC/WSJ poll largely breaks down along party lines. About three-quarters, 73 percent, of Republicans back his confirmation, while 4 percent are against it. Two-thirds of Democrats oppose the judge serving on the Supreme Court, while 8 percent back him. A plurality of independents do not want Kavanaugh on the court, as 37 percent oppose his confirmation and 21 percent back it.
Since August, Kavanaugh lost support among several groups, including independents, women over 50, suburban women and seniors, according to the survey.
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Sept. 16-19 of 900 registered voters — reached by both cell phone and landline — and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points.