Americans have a generally positive first impression of Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. But they’re split on whether the choice should have been Trump’s to begin with.
Forty percent of Americans approve of the choice of Gorsuch and 28 percent disapprove, with the remaining 32 percent unsure.
Among those who approve, 58 percent say it’s mostly because they think Gorsuch would be a good Supreme Court justice, and one-third say it’s because they trust Trump to nominate someone who’d do a good job. Sixty-six percent of those who disapprove say it’s because they don’t trust Trump to make a good decision, while 28 percent say their disapproval is specifically about Gorsuch himself.
A plurality of the public, 43 percent, thinks the Senate should vote to confirm Gorsuch, with 28 percent saying it should not do so.
Other polling has found similar results. A CNN/ORC survey released Sunday found that 49 percent of Americans wanted the Senate to vote in favor of Gorsuch, with 36 percent opposed ― akin to the levels of support for previous nominees Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor. In a SurveyMonkey poll released Thursday, Americans approved 53-42 of Gorsuch’s nomination.
In weighing their votes on Gorsuch, many Senate Democrats are taking into consideration President Barack Obama’s failed nomination of Merrick Garland last year for the same position. Republicans in the Senate refused to hold hearings on Garland, arguing that Obama shouldn’t get to fill the seat during his final year in office. Most Americans said last year that Garland deserved to be considered.
“The ghost of Merrick Garland still floats around part of this place,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said last week. “I’m going to take a look at his nominee … but let’s make it clear: This is a different process now because of what they did last year.”
Americans are about evenly split on which president should have had the opportunity to choose the next Supreme Court justice, the HuffPost/YouGov survey found, with 41 percent saying Obama should have had the chance to replace Scalia, and 40 percent saying the choice should be Trump’s.
Given the GOP’s decision to block hearings for Garland, 34 percent of respondents think Democrats would be justified in similarly blocking Gorsuch from receiving a hearing, while 39 percent don’t think they would be justified.
Unsurprisingly, opinions are starkly divided along partisan lines.
Nearly 80 percent of Republicans think that the vacancy is Trump’s to fill, with nearly three-quarters approving of the choice of Gorsuch and saying that the Senate should vote to confirm him. By a 50-point margin, 65 percent to 15 percent, they say it would be unjustified for Democrats to deny Gorsuch a hearing.
In contrast, 59 percent Democrats disapprove of Gorsuch’s nomination, with most saying they don’t trust Trump to make a good choice for the position. By a 31-point margin, 53 percent to 22 percent, they say the Senate should vote against him. And by a 46-point margin, 63 percent to 17 percent, they say their party’s officials in the Senate would be justified in blocking hearings. The vast majority of Democrats, 82 percent, believe that Obama should have been able to fill the seat.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Feb. 2-3 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 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. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.