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Poll: Voters Give SCOTUS Nominee Narrowly Positive Marks, But Say Hearings Should Wait

Registered voters give narrowly positive ratings to Amy Coney Barrett, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, but say that hearings for her confirmation should wait until after the election.

Voters approve of Barrett’s nomination 46% to 42%, the poll finds. By 43% to 38%, a 5-percentage point margin, they say they’d like their senators to vote in favor of her confirmation. (For comparison, in February 2017, voters said by a much broader 17-point margin that the Senate should vote to confirm then-nominee Neil Gorsuch. The reaction to Barrett’s nomination is more similar to July 2018, when voters initially said by a 4-point margin that their senators should vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh — a finding that came prior to assault allegations against him.) 

But voters also say, 48% to 41%, that the Senate should wait until after the election before holding any confirmation hearings. 

Views are sharply divided along political lines. An 86% majority of Republican voters want their senators to vote in favor of Barrett’s confirmation, and 78% say hearings should be held prior to the election. Just 6% of Democratic voters say they want their senators to vote for Barrett’s confirmation, with just 7% favoring pre-election hearings.

Barrett has a public record of advocating for limits on abortion, including signing her name to a newspaper ad stating opposition to “abortion on demand.” Just shy of half of voters, 46%, believe that Barrett thinks the Supreme Court should add more restrictions on abortion, with 18% saying she favors lifting existing restrictions or keeping restrictions at their existing level. Another 36% aren’t sure.

Democratic voters are significantly likelier than Republican voters to believe Barrett supports additional restrictions. Just 27% of voters say they personally support the Supreme Court adding new restrictions on abortion.

The survey finds voters evenly split on general protocol for Supreme Court nominations, with 43% saying presidents in the final year of their term should immediately nominate Supreme Court justices if a vacancy occurs and 44% saying that any vacancies should wait until after the election.

A significant share of voters, 42%, say that the Supreme Court will be very important to their vote, with Democratic and Republican voters about equally likely to call it very important. But, as in previous polls, the court continues to rank behind other issues in relative importance.

Only about one-quarter of voters, 24%, say the Supreme Court is among their top three issues for this election, placing it behind the economy (45%), the coronavirus (43%) and health care (39%). Three in 10 Republican voters and 21% of Democratic voters call the Supreme Court one of their top issues. 

The poll was conducted last Tuesday through Sunday, during a slew of breaking news that could shake up voters’ priorities, including the first general election debate and Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

Voters are about evenly divided on which of the presidential candidates would do a better job of choosing Supreme Court nominees, with 45% saying Joe Biden would and 44% saying that Trump would.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Sept. 29 to Oct. 4 among U.S. adults who are registered voters, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate.

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