The question of holding hearings and a vote on confirming a new justice immediately became an issue with Justice Ginsburg’s death, as it had following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. In this poll, conducted in the days before Ginsburg’s death, a substantial majority of respondents of both parties say that if a vacancy occurred during the 2020 election year, the Senate should hold hearings on a nominee, with 67 percent saying hearings should be held and 32 percent saying they should not be held. Views on holding hearings do not vary much by partisanship, as shown in Table 3. This table will provide a baseline from before there was a vacancy against which to measure any future change in partisan views, if a nomination is made and considered.
By contrast, partisans are much more divided on whether the decision not to hold hearings in 2016 on the nomination of Merrick B. Garland was the right or wrong thing to do. Among all adults, 25 percent say that not holding hearings was the right thing to do, while 73 percent say that it was the wrong thing to do. Among Republicans, 45 percent say that not holding hearings was the right thing to do, but only 15 percent of Democrats agree. The full responses by party are shown in Table 4.