Republicans Overwhelmingly Think Their Party Was Justified In Opposing Loretta Lynch

04/27/2015 05:07 pm ET | Updated Apr 27, 2015

Senate Republicans who opposed Loretta Lynch's nomination as attorney general lost the battle to keep her from being confirmed, but many Americans, including the vast majority of their party, think they were justified in disputing her nomination for political reasons.

In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, 41 percent say senators are justified in voting against a nominee if they disagree with that nominee's political opinions. A third say senators should approve any nominee who is qualified for the position, regardless of their political opinions, with the remaining 26 percent unsure.

The results are driven largely by Republican unanimity: More than 70 percent in the GOP agree that senators should have the discretion to oppose cabinet nominees. Democrats say the Senate should approve any qualified nominees, but by a less overwhelming margin; independents are largely split.

The partisan differences are even more pronounced when it comes to the specific issue that dogged Lynch's confirmation. Three-quarters of Republicans say it was appropriate for GOP senators to oppose her nomination because she supported President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration. Just 19 percent of Democrats agree.

Yet Lynch herself remains an unknown to many Americans, few of whom report paying much attention to the controversy over her nomination. While a third approve of her confirmation and 22 percent disapprove, the biggest group -- 45 percent -- say they aren't sure what they think.

Even Republicans, who strongly disliked her predecessor, Eric Holder, aren't yet lining up overwhelmingly against the new attorney general. Twenty percent approve of her confirmation, while 40 percent disapprove, and an equal 40 percent are undecided.

Rather than a referendum on Lynch, the results may reflect a more basic tendency for members of the party that's out of power to support pushing back against a president they oppose. While there's little past polling on cabinet nominations, a few previous surveys on Supreme Court nominations suggest neither Democrats nor Republicans have held a consistent stance on whether the confirmation process should be driven purely by qualifications.

In 2005, during George W. Bush's presidency, Democrats were 26 points more likely than Republicans to say senators would be justified in voting against now-Chief Justice John Roberts because of his political views, a Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll found. By 2010, with Obama in office, Republican voters were 20 points more likely than Democrats to say senators should consider nominees' opinions as well as their qualifications.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted April 23-26 among U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post 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. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the poll's 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. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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