Commentary, News

Poll: Voters unhappy with Senate obstruction of Supreme Court nominee

Supreme courtIn case you missed it last week in all the electoral hubbub, Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling has some powerful new numbers on the what even Lindsay Graham has described as the Senate’s unprecedented obstruction of a replacement nominee for Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s Jensen:

New Public Policy Polling surveys in Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, and North Carolina find that voter anger over their Republican Senators’ unwillingness to consider a replacement for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court could help make those seats competitive for Democrats this fall.

Key findings from the surveys include:

-All these Senators start out with pretty mediocre approval ratings. John McCain’s approval is a 26/63 spread, Roy Blunt’s is 25/48, and Richard Burr’s is 28/44. Only Chuck Grassley within this group is on positive ground and his 47/44 spread is down considerably from what we usually find for him as he loses crossover support from Democrats because of his intransigence on the Supreme Court issue. Further making life difficult for this quartet is the incredibly damaged brand of Senate Republicans. Mitch McConnell is vastly unpopular in these four states, coming in at 11/63 in Iowa, 16/68 in Arizona, 16/69 in Missouri, and 19/65 in North Carolina. McConnell will be an albatross for all Senate Republicans seeking reelection this fall.

-Strong majorities of voters in each of these states want the Supreme Court vacancy to be filled this year. It’s a 56/40 spread in favor of filling the seat in Iowa, 56/41 in Arizona and Missouri, and 55/41 in North Carolina. What’s particularly important in the numbers is the strong support for filling the seat among independents- it’s 60/38 in Missouri, 59/37 in Arizona, 58/38 in Iowa, and 55/38 in North Carolina. Independent voters will be key to determining whether these incumbents sink or swim this fall, and they want the vacancy filled.

-What voters especially have a problem with is Senate Republicans saying they’re going to reject President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court no matter who it is.

Super majorities of voters in all four of these states- 69/25 in Arizona, 66/24 in Missouri, 66/25 in North Carolina, and 66/26 in Iowa say that the Senate should at least wait and see who’s put forward before deciding whether to confirm or deny that person. Even Republican voters- 56/35 in Arizona, 54/38 in North Carolina, 52/37 in Missouri, and 50/39 in Iowa think their Senators are taking far too extreme of a position by saying they won’t approve President Obama’s choice without even knowing who that choice is.

-The Supreme Court issue really could make a difference at the ballot box this fall. Voters by a 34 point margin in Arizona and Missouri, a 21 point margin in North Carolina, and a 14 point margin in Iowa say that they’re less likely to vote for their Republican Senators this fall if they refuse to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court no matter who it is. This is again something where we find the Republican Senators could particularly pay a price with independent voters. Independents in Arizona say 61/18 they’re less likely to vote for John McCain because of this issue, and it’s 55/16 for Richard Burr with them in North Carolina, 55/20 for Roy Blunt with them in Missouri, and 48/24 for Chuck Grassley with them in Iowa.

Our surveys last week found that voters were angry over the Supreme Court issue in New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin and might punish Kelly Ayotte, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, and Ron Johnson for it this fall. Those have always been seen as toss up Senate races. But this newest set of polls shows that even in more Republican leaning states like Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, and North Carolina voters are still angry over the obstructionism John McCain, Chuck Grassley, Roy Blunt, and Richard Burr are showing on this issue. That- combined with the increasing specter of Republicans nominating Donald Trump- could help put these seats on the board for Democrats this fall as well.

This analysis is also available on our website:
http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2016/03/anger-over-supreme-court-vacancy-could-expand-2016-senate-map.html

2 Comments


  1. Bill C

    March 15, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Before the Supreme Court became so partisan, the stakes weren’t so high. Now that the Supreme Court figures it can select the President, the GOP would sacrifice its Senate majority to control the Court. It’s unfortunate, but that’s how Republicans see it.
    Do your job and VOTE!

  2. LayintheSmakDown

    March 15, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    How is it unprecedented? This matter has been well established multiple times by democrat run Senates. Methinks the protest is just because it is being continued by Republicans. Hypocrisy, your name is democrat!

    And if PPP is the polling source, it is already discredited by most Americans as push polling so the results are dubious at best.

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