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Sotomayor Choice Widely Popular, But A Quarter of Hispanics Disapprove

First Posted: 07/05/09 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 02:25 PM ET

Sotomayor

Judge Sonia Sotomayor enjoys wide popularity as her confirmation for Supreme Court enters its early stages. But among the groups registering a small amount of skepticism is Sotomayor's own -- Hispanics.

President Barack Obama's choice for the Court is approved by 55 percent of all voters surveyed, compared to 25 percent who disapprove, according a new Quinnipiac University National Poll of 3,000 voters nationwide.

Broken down by party, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals judge earns almost unanimously positive reviews among Democrats -- 80 percent of whom support her nomination, only five percent of whom oppose. Among independent voters, 53 percent support Sotomayor and 26 percent oppose. Republicans oppose the Sotomayor nomination 47 percent to 30 percent.

Parsing the numbers according to religious or ethnic background, the results are a bit more surprising. Sotomayor has a 58 percent approval rating among Hispanic voters and a 24 percent disapproval rating. By comparison, among black voters, 85 percent said they supported her nomination to the Supreme court, while only two percent were opposed. Sixty-six percent of Jewish voters back Sotomayor, while 18 percent were opposed.

One of the factors behind these numbers may be that Hispanics are more conservative than widely believed. When asked whether Sotomayor "is more liberal than you would like" for a Supreme Court justice, a quarter of Hispanic respondents responded, "yes." Only 11 percent said that Sotomayor is "not liberal enough," while 46 percent said that her position on the political spectrum is "about right."

In addition, according to the same survey, Hispanics were more prone than and other group -- Whites, Blacks, Evangelicals, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Woman, Men, even McCain supporters -- to say that they approved of the way Republicans in Congress were handling their jobs.

That said, Obama's Supreme Court nominee does have popular support among the vast majority of ethnic, religious and even ideological groups, paving the way for what should be a smooth confirmation.

"To a considerable degree, feelings about the wisdom of Judge Sotomayor's selection match attitudes about President Barack Obama. Those who are most supportive of the President - Democrats, racial minorities, Jews and liberals - are the most in her corner," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Those who are least happy with the president - Republicans, conservatives and white evangelical Christians -- are more likely to oppose her nomination."

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