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Americans Back Kennedy Appointment by Small Margin

Americans Back Kennedy Appointment by Small Margin

by Lymari Morales

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are more likely to favor than oppose Caroline Kennedy as a replacement for Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, but hardly by an overwhelming margin.


Caroline Kennedy, who has long shied away from public office, has expressed interest in being appointed to the U.S. Senate since president-elect Obama tapped sitting New York senator, Hillary Clinton, to become his secretary of state. Any appointment made by New York's Democratic Gov. David Paterson would likely be a Democrat, and views on Kennedy's appointment break solidly by party lines. A majority of Democrats favor the appointment while a majority of Republicans oppose it. Independents are split evenly down the middle. It is probable that Republicans' negative reactions are as much to the idea of any Democrat being appointed to the Senate as it is specifically to Kennedy when compared to some other Democratic possibility.


Interestingly, Americans in the East are the least likely of any region to favor Kennedy's appointment, a noteworthy finding considering the seat in question represents New York and the Kennedy family hails from Massachusetts. Only 38% in the Eastern region say they would like to see Kennedy appointed, while 43% would rather see someone else appointed, the opposite of the findings in all other regions and the United States as a whole.


It is possible that the attitudes in the East are affected by the views of those living in New York (about 25% of the Eastern region as defined by Gallup), who, as at least one poll has shown, have become more negative toward Kennedy while being heavily exposed to news coverage of her efforts to be appointed to the Senate seat. The Gallup data seem to corroborate this. The relatively small sample of New York residents suggest that New Yorkers are not very enthusiastic about having Kennedy appointed to the senate.

By way of comparison, in the case of Roland Burris, appointed to fill Barack Obama's seat by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a majority of Americans say they support a special election as soon as possible to fill the Obama seat, rather than accepted the Burris appointment.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,000 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan 5, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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