Gallup: Dem opposition to Barrett confirmation a big flop

So much for the process argument. In a survey that took place in part during and after Senate testimony from Amy Coney Barrett, Gallup finds that a majority of Americans support her confirmation to the Supreme Court. Barrett gets the first such Gallup majority since Elena Kagan — although opposition is also the highest ever, 51/46.

Senate Democrats hoped to delegitimize Barrett, but that effort appears to have backfired:

A slim 51% majority of Americans support federal judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last month. At the same time, 46% of U.S. adults do not want Barrett to be seated, and 3% do not yet have an opinion of her nomination.

Barrett is the twelfth Supreme Court nominee for whom Gallup has measured public support since 1987. The public’s initial support for Barrett’s confirmation is higher than either of President Donald Trump’s two previous nominees — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — had at any point prior to their confirmations. But opposition is also higher than any other nominee’s initial reading. This is owed to the fact that the percentage of Americans with no opinion on the Barrett vote is strikingly lower than it has been for any other nominee in Gallup’s history.

On average, 25% of Americans have not had an opinion of Supreme Court nominees in the initial measure after the president’s selection. The 3% with no opinion on Barrett’s nomination is even lower than the average 22% that Gallup has seen in the final measurement before the last eight justices were confirmed.

Interestingly, the highest no-opinion rating was for Robert Bork (44%), back at the dawn of the trend toward contentious Supreme Court confirmation processes. Most of these Gallup surveys took place in the days following a nomination rather than during the confirmation process; for instance, Clarence Thomas got 52/17 support at that point, a situation that would deteriorate during his hearings. On the other hand, Brett Kavanaugh started off with a 41/37 rating long before Senate Democrats launched a character-assassination campaign against him

That makes Barrett’s majority support even more remarkable. Her nomination came under fire both for Barrett’s own judicial philosophy and the legitimacy of the appointment and confirmation. The only audience that appears to have responded to those arguments are registered Democrats, who oppose her confirmation by 15/84, by far the highest level of opposition-party disfavor on record. Barrett’s confirmation also gets the highest level of approval among the governing party, 89/9, basically evidence of the polarization in this process.

However, Barrett also scores a majority among unaffiliated voters, 52/43. That is the best rating and first majority among independents since Sonia Sotomayor (54/27). In fact, only John Roberts (54/24) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (52/12) have also gotten majority support in Gallup’s polling of independents in the post-Bork era, and neither faced the kind of partisan storms that Barrett has in replacing Ginsburg.

This demonstrates that the attacks by Senate Democrats have flopped, except maybe as a base-stoking strategy, and Republicans got at least an equal reaction from Barrett’s nomination. They failed to marginalize Barrett or her appointment. With any luck, this will signal an end to the effectiveness of these character attacks on Republican judicial appointments. For a moment, anyway, it looks like Americans have finally figured out the Senate Democrats’ game.

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David Strom 3:00 PM | May 20, 2024