Opposition is mounting to the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan after Senate hearings scheduled to begin next week, with 42 percent of U.S. voters opposing her, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey.
That's up 9 points from the week President Obama announced her nomination, marking the highest level of opposition to date in Rasmussen’s tracking of the Kagan nomination.
Meanwhile, the polling organization’s tally of 1,000 likely voters, taken June 21 and 22, shows that 35 percent think that Senate should confirm Kagan for the Supreme Court. Another 23 percent are undecided.
By comparison, just before Senate hearings began last summer for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, 37 percent favored her confirmation and 39 percent opposed it.
Two weeks ago, 33 percent thought Kagan should be confirmed, and 41 percent disagreed. Support for Kagan’s confirmation was highest in mid-May, when 39 percent felt that way. Still, the same number did not think she should be a Supreme Court justice.
Regardless of whether voters want to see it happen, 83 percent believe she is likely to be confirmed, including 54 percent who say it is very likely. Only 6 percent say her confirmation is unlikely.
Voters give the former Harvard Law School dean mixed reviews, with 40 percent having a favorable impression of her, and 41 percent, unfavorable. The new findings mark a slight improvement in Kagan's favorability ratings. Early this month, 36 percent viewed Kagan favorably, and 42 percent viewed her unfavorably. In late May, 47 percent viewed Kagan unfavorably.
Historically, for all recent nominees except Samuel Alito, the longer nominees are in the confirmation process and the more that is known about them, the lower their level of public support. That’s one reason why, while Republicans were more willing to take their time, Democrats pushed for an early confirmation hearing for Sotomayor and are doing the same for Kagan. The latter’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Kagan are set to begin Monday.
Support for Kagan’s confirmation remains unchanged among Republicans and voters not affiliated with either political party. But support among Democrats is up 6 points from two weeks ago.
Voters’ perceptions of Kagan’s ideology also show little change. Just over 40 percent view her as politically liberal, down slightly from findings two weeks ago and more in line with results when she was first nominated.
But 36 percent perceive her as moderate, up 6 points from the past several surveys and the highest level measured so far. Only 5 percent consider her politically conservative.
Most 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.
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