Court Battles

Poll: Small majority support moving ahead to fill Supreme Court vacancy

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A small majority of Americans support President Trump and the Senate moving ahead to fill the Supreme Court vacancy just over a month before the presidential election, according to a new poll.

The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey finds that 53 percent say Trump is right to put forward a nominee for the Supreme Court without delay, including 51 percent of independents. In addition, 53 percent of voters say the Senate should consider the nominee right now.

The poll was conducted before Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

The survey found that 51 percent of voters want a Supreme Court nominee who will affirm the right to have an abortion, while 26 percent want a justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for abortion access nationwide and 23 percent say it is not an important issue to them. 

When voters are told that Democrats have considered retaliating against the nomination by adding justices or granting statehood to Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, 38 percent said that makes them less likely to vote for Democrats, 36 percent said more likely and 27 percent said it would have no effect. Forty-three percent of independents said it made them more likely to vote for Democrats, 33 percent said no effect and 23 percent said less likely.

When voters are told that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked former President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court because it was an election year in 2016, 39 percent said it made them less likely to vote for Republicans, 32 percent said no effect and 29 percent said it made them more likely to vote GOP. Forty-four percent of independents said no effect, 35 percent said less likely to vote Republican and 21 percent said more likely.

“The political charges back and forth about the process don’t really move people either way as they are seen as political maneuvering,” said Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll polling director Mark Penn. “The public mildly supports the president and senate going ahead with a new nominee — but the real politics is on how the nominee herself resonates with the public.”

A strong majority of voters, 71 percent, have a favorable view of the Supreme Court.

A plurality, 45 percent, say the court’s ideology strikes the right balance, with 35 percent saying it is too conservative and 21 percent too liberal. 

Sixty-one percent say the justices should interpret the Constitution as written, compared to 39 percent who say they should interpret it as they see it evolving. 

“Voters are far more satisfied with the Supreme Court than with either the president or Congress,” said Penn. “They generally support its landmark rulings while wanting judges that interpret the laws, over using the job for activism.”

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey of 1,314 registered voters was conducted between Sept. 22 and Sept. 24. 

It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll throughout 2020.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.

Tags Donald Trump Mark Penn Mitch McConnell Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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