Indeed, and their allies on media — both mainstream and social — aren’t helping, either. Almost from the moment that Donald Trump announced that he would nominate a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, Democrats and progressives have attacked Amy Coney Barrett over her faith, her adopted children, and the very idea of replacing Ginsburg at all. Axios hears from a “top Democratic strategist” who wishes all of these allies would stop trying to help:
Democrats privately fear that going too hard on Judge Amy Coney Barrett in her confirmation hearings could wind up backfiring if senators are perceived as being nasty to an accomplished woman. …
Senate Democrats recognize the danger. A top Democratic strategist pointed to three pitfalls: “liberals mishandling this by boycotting or treating her with disrespect; [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein [top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee] screwing it up; someone looking like a religious bigot.”
- “One more fear on Barrett: the adoption thing,” the strategist added. “Gotta avoid that.”
- Some liberals (not elected officials) tweeted slurs about adoption yesterday and were slapped down.
A top Senate Democratic aide said the party has a three-part plan for avoiding those traps: “Health care, health care, health care.”
It’s not just a rhetorical box, either. The schedule announced by Lindsey Graham yesterday for the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation process would pass along a recommendation — one way or the other — to the full Senate by October 22. Senate Democrats could delay the process for a floor vote with some procedural wrangling, but as Karen noted in her post, #2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin admits they can’t slow it down for long. With that in mind, Durbin told George Stephanopoulos, Democrats should “address this now respectfully.”
A pair of polls out this morning show why Democrats will tread carefully, if not respectfully. A survey conducted for Just The News by Scott Rasmussen after the Saturday announcement shows a fairly even split among its 1000 respondents to Barrett. A plurality of 37% favors her confirmation, but it’s essentially a three-way split after her introduction:
Americans favor confirming the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court justice by a margin of 37% to 30%, with one-third undecided, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen.
The survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted online by Rasmussen on Sept. 26 shortly after President Trump announced Barrett, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, as his third nominee to the high court. All responses were collected within two hours.
“It’s important to remember that 46% of voters had either never heard of Barrett or didn’t know enough to have an opinion of her,” Rasmussen said.
The overall results show: 21% strongly favor confirming the nomination, 16% somewhat favor, 9% somewhat oppose, 21% strongly oppose, and 33% are not sure.
The demos on this poll are interesting, but especially in the ethnic groups. The “not sure” figures are the most intriguing; among Democrats it’s 29%, a high level for such an already-partisanized process, but nearly half of all independents (47%) haven’t made up their minds either. Black voters actually split in favor of confirmation 33/27, with 40% reserving judgment, although Hispanic voters split more evenly at 35/36/30. Geography doesn’t matter a lot either; urban voters split 32/36/32, suburban voters 38/30/32, and rural voters 42/25/32. Bottom line: there’s room for either side to make a fair case.
The news isn’t quite as hopeful at Rasmussen Reports (not affiliated with Scott), which conducted their own survey to capture the reaction. Their poll shows that opposition wins a plurality, but again not by a lot:
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 79% of Likely U.S. Voters think Barrett is likely to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, with 54% who say it’s Very Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
This compares to 83% and 47% respectively for Judge Brett Kavanaugh just after President Trump announced his nomination in July 2018 and 86% and 52% respectively for Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first high court pick, in February 2017. …
Also similar to what we’ve seen in initial surveying on past Supreme Court nominees, 39% of voters think the Senate should confirm Barrett based on what they know at this time. Forty-nine percent (49%) say she should not be confirmed, but 12% are undecided.
Predictably, 76% of Republicans believe the Senate should confirm the GOP president’s latest nominee. Seventy-five percent (75%) of Democrats and 53% of voters not affiliated with either major party oppose her confirmation. But 76% of Democrats and 71% of unaffiliated voters agree with 90% of Republicans that the Senate is likely to confirm Barrett.
Barrett made a better impression than the 39/49 outcome on the confirmation question reflects; her favorability is 40/42, higher among men (48/40) than women (33/45). Republicans (73/13) and Democrats (16/65) split about how one might suspect, but independents ended up more on the negative side (33/47) after her Saturday introduction. However, when broken out by income groups, Barrett did best with the working and middle class groups, and landed in a virtual tie with the highest income level demo:
- Under $30K: 22/50
- $30-50K: 54/31
- $50K-100K: 46/37
- $100-200K: 34/54
- Over $200K: 45/48
The vast majority of voters land in the two income demos between $30K-100K, needless to say, so that’s not necessarily bad news. The split between the perception of Barrett and opposition to her confirmation reflects more on the process and timing rather than the selection of nominee. There are still large numbers of voters who haven’t made up their minds on Barrett, even among Democrats (20%!), so there may still be value in attacking Barrett directly — as long as it’s not done disrespectfully or overly personally. However, the early data suggests that Democrats will do better to attack the process rather than the nominee.
Not that it will make any difference to the confirmation, of course. But Democrats need to chalk that one up and see how much electoral hay they can make out of this — and Republicans had better be prepared for at least some harvest out of it.