PRINCETON, NJ -- Just under half of Americans -- 46% -- would like to see the U.S. Senate vote to confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, a bit more than the 36% who disagree. Public support for Kagan has been fairly steady at this level since May, just prior to the start of her Senate confirmation hearings.
Kagan has reportedly won over enough Senate Republicans to assure her confirmation this week as the fourth female U.S. Supreme Court justice. If confirmed, she will be the first Supreme Court nominee in recent polling history to succeed with less than half of Americans in favor.
The 36% who oppose Kagan is identical to the percentage who opposed confirming Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor a year ago, but it is higher than the rates of opposition Gallup found to both of George W. Bush's successful nominees -- Samuel Alito and John Roberts.
Support for Kagan Lower Across the Board
Compared with public support for Sotomayor at a similar point on her path to the high court, support for Kagan is lower across the board -- including across gender, age, and political lines.
Notably, while both women were nominated by Democratic President Barack Obama, Democrats are less likely to say the Senate should vote in favor of Kagan (70%) than they were to say this about Sotomayor (80%). However, Democratic opposition is identical, at 13%. Democrats are simply much more likely to have no opinion of Kagan than they were of Sotomayor (17% vs. 7%) -- similar to the pattern among all Americans.
Americans generally favor Senate confirmation of Elena Kagan to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court, but the 46% to 36% margin in favor is weak by historical standards. To some extent this is due to Americans' lack of familiarity with her, but the 36% opposed is also high for a successful nominee.
Results for this USA Today/Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 27-Aug. 1, 2010, with a random sample of 1,208 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
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 landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). This sample includes a minimum quota of 180 cell phone-only respondents and 1,020 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
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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