In the end, there was a two-vote margin.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley offered up some words of praise for protesters ahead of the vote.
Senate Republicans, except for Lisa Murkowski, stood by Mr Kavanaugh in a move that could resonate, particularly with women voters, in the 6 November elections to determine control of the Senate and House of Representatives. Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations.
In a twist, Murkowski stated her opposition but voted "present" as a courtesy to Kavanaugh supporter Sen.
Republican Senator Deb Fischer described Kavanaugh as "one of the most thoughtful, pre-eminent judges in our nation". It also cited an anonymous Democratic senator and an aide, both of whom agreed.
Ford's lawyers said in a statement to HuffPost: "As the Senate debates the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, numerous false claims have been repeated to undermine the credibility of Dr Christine Blasey Ford".
"We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy", said Collins, perhaps the chamber's most moderate Republican.
A much larger crowd of protesters is watching the demonstration from behind a barricade.
Ahead of the vote, hundreds of people protesting against Mr Kavanaugh's nomination demonstrated at the US Capitol in Washington.
This vote means that the Senate can proceed to the actual confirmation vote on Saturday.
"There may be people with power who are looking the other way, but there are millions more who are standing together, speaking up about personal experiences of sexual violence and taking action to support survivors", Ramirez said. Manchin is running for re-election in his traditionally Republican state. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who had been undecided. He said he "found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist".
Protesters chanted "Shame" at Manchin later when he talked to reporters outside his office.
In an essay published on Thursday by the Wall Street Journal, Kavanaugh said he regretted parts of his opening statement and testimony, saying they reflected his frustration. "At the same time, enough has been learned about his partisan instincts that we believe senators must vote 'no'". Collins and a group of Senate Republicans reportedly had lunch with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. A few Democrats sat stone-faced nearby. She said he was a "fine man" but was not the right person "for the court at this time".
Even during the final vote to confirm Kavanaugh on Saturday, protesters shouted from the Senate gallery and urged Senators to vote against the nominee. Mr Kavanaugh actually only needed a 50-50 vote, as that would have forced a tie-breaker in his favour from Mr Pence.
The senate voted 51-to-49 to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to a floor vote.
On the other side, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY called the fight "a sorry epilogue to the brazen theft of Justice Scalia's seat".
The lone Republican to oppose the nomination was Sen.
Yet Kavanaugh's pathway to confirmation seemed unfettered until Ford and two other women emerged with sexual misconduct allegations from the 1980s. He relied on his calendars from high school as evidence that he never assaulted Ford. They also challenged the veracity of some of his Judiciary Committee testimony.
Due to news reports on Kavanaugh over the past two weeks, the process of confirming a Supreme Court justice, she said, hit "rock bottom" with protests and theatrics.