Eighty-two percent of U.S. voters expect President Obama’s newest nominee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, to be confirmed by the Senate. This includes 52 percent who say it is very likely.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey, taken last night following the president’s announcement of the nomination, finds that only 5 percent of voters say Kagan’s confirmation is not very or not at all likely. Another 12 percent are not sure.
In the first survey following the president’s announcement of his nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the high court, 87 percent predicted she would be confirmed. Voters are evenly divided, however, over whether Kagan, the first nominee without judicial experience chosen in nearly 40 years, should be confirmed: 33 percent say yes, 33 percent say no, and 34 percent are undecided.
By comparison, 45 percent favored Sotomayor’s confirmation in the first survey following her nomination. Twenty-nine percent were opposed, and 26 percent not sure. By the end of the confirmation process, 41 percent favored Sotomayor’s rise to the Supreme Court, and 37 percent opposed it.
The partisan split is predictable. Fifty-four percent of Republicans oppose Kagan’s confirmation. Yet while the plurality (47 percent) of Democrats support her confirmation, a surprisingly high 38 percent of voters in the president’s party are not sure. Voters not affiliated with either party are closely divided over the question.
The survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters was conducted on May 10, 2010, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.
Forty-five percent of all voters have a favorable opinion of Kagan, former dean of the Harvard Law School and currently the U.S. solicitor general. This includes 18 percent who view her very favorably. Thirty-nine percent have an unfavorable view of the nominee, including 17 percent very unfavorable. Sixteen percent have no opinion of her.
Forty-three percent of voters nationwide regard Kagan as a liberal, while 31 percent say she’s a moderate. Just 3 percent view her as conservative. Nearly one-in-four voters (24 percent) aren’t sure.
Those numbers may have more to do with perceptions of the president rather than an assessment of the nominee’s record. Before Kagan was selected, 45 percent believed that justices nominated by Obama would be too liberal, while 41 percent believed the nominees would be about right.
Thirty-nine percent of voters nationwide already believe the Supreme Court is too liberal. Twenty-five percent think the high court is too conservative, and 27 percent feel the court’s ideological balance is about right.
Some in Congress are questioning Kagan’s lack of a published record that would offer insights into her judicial philosophy, but questions about her views are sure to come during the upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings.
Fifty-six percent of voters believe it is fair for a U.S. senator to oppose an otherwise qualified court nominee because of disagreements over ideology or judicial philosophy.
Voters have consistently and overwhelmingly said in national surveys that justices should make their decisions based on what’s written in the U.S. Constitution and on legal precedents rather than on a sense of fairness and justice. But voters also tend to think Obama believes the court should rule on the basis of fairness and justice.
The president’s new nominee is intended to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, 90, the court’s oldest serving member. Although appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975, Stevens has long been viewed as a reliably liberal vote on the court.
Seventy-seven percent of voters say they have followed news stories about Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, with 39 percent who are following very closely. Twenty-three percent are not following very closely, if at all.
© All Rights Reserved.