Gallup Poll--Roberts Nomination:


The poll, conducted Sept. 8-11, finds that 58% of Americans support the Senate confirming Roberts to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Twenty-seven percent oppose his confirmation and 15% have no opinion.

Gallup has asked this question four times since President Bush nominated Roberts in late July, initially to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. At that time, 59% of Americans said the Senate should confirm Roberts. Then, in August, support for Roberts' confirmation decreased slightly, but still a slim majority of Americans (51% in early August and 52% in late August) supported his confirmation. Gallup polling conducted after Bush nominated Roberts to serve as chief justice upon the recent death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist -- but before the Senate confirmation hearings began this week -- finds support for his confirmation at 58%.

Daniel Chapman (mail):
Frankly, I have serious doubts that 58% of the american public even know who John Roberts is and what he's been nominated for, much less have the background knowledge necessary to formulate an opinion on this poll. I don't mean to sound elitist, but I've even known lawyers who couldn't name all nine justices on the Supreme Court. Aside from the press (and the Senate) trying to turn this nomination into a proxy for "liberal v. conservative," people just don't care.

This nomination won't be an issue in the next presidential election (aside from people like me who already vote based on Court nominations), and I guarantee no one will remember how a particular senator voted come 2006. Does this poll mean ANYTHING?
9.17.2005 4:56pm
=0= (mail):
Must say, I agree with Daniel. A more interesting poll would be to find what percentage could actually define what stare decisis means, in even vague terms. Or even what Lopez or Morrison refer to.

This said as a non-lawyer.
9.17.2005 5:35pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
I guarantee no one will remember how a particular senator voted come 2006

Well, unless their opponent reminds the electorate. That's most likely a problem for Dems in red states or for moderate Dems in deep-blue states who might face primary challenges.

It wouldn't be about John Roberts, it would be "He opposed Bush! He's an obstructionist!" or "He supported Bush! He's a sellout!"

Given that there's another vacancy on the Court, it could matter.
9.17.2005 10:11pm
david blue (mail) (www):
I'm with Daniel as well. Particularly interesting is that, according to the data posted at the link, while only 15% of Americans expressed "no opinion" on whether or not Roberts should be confirmed, more than twice that number - 33% - expressed "no opinion" on Roberts himself. How is it, then, that 18% of Americans don't know enough about Roberts to have an opinion of him, yet think that he should be confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States? ("Whatever Georgie wants, Georgie gets?") Stated differently, can this poll possibly be worth the paper it's printed on?
9.18.2005 12:06am
david blue (mail) (www):
Upon belatedly rereading my comment, I detect a logical error. My comment assumes that the 18% of Americans who supposedly have no opinion on Roberts, yet have an opinion on his confirmation, all want him confirmed. Of course that's not necessarily right. But the basic point still stands: how can 18% of Americans have "no opinion" on Roberts himself, yet have a clear view as to whether he should or should not be confirmed? It still doesn't make much sense.
9.18.2005 12:09am
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
"how can 18% of Americans have "no opinion" on Roberts himself, yet have a clear view as to whether he should or should not be confirmed? It still doesn't make much sense."

Some could simply say this: "I do not have a clear enough impression of Roberts' judicial philosophy - or whether he even has one - to have an opinon on him personally. However, I feel that unless the nominee is proven to be corrupt, incompetent or has a proven non-Constitutionalist philosophy, the President's nomination deserves deference. Thus, I am an undecided on Roberts but think that given the current state of information, he should be confirmed."
9.18.2005 1:08am
jgshapiro (mail):
More likely than not, the people who have a strong opinion on whether Roberts should be confirmed are people with a strong party allegience, or at least a strong orientation toward the left or right. These people's votes are not really up for grabs in any election, so their opinions don't really matter.

The real question is how many 'swing' voters would care about whether their senator voted to confirm or oppose Roberts' nomination, and I suspect that number cannot be very high.
9.18.2005 5:28am
magoo (mail):
Support aomng independents was fairly high on 9/7:

Time Poll conducted by Schulman, Ronca &Bucuvalas (SRBI) Public Affairs. Sept. 7-8, 2005. N=1,000 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (for all adults).

"Based on what you've heard or read about John Roberts, do you think he should or should not be confirmed by the Senate to serve as chief justice of the Supreme Court?".

Should Be Confirmed Should Not Be Confirmed Unsure
% % %
ALL 48 26 26
Republicans 73 9 18
Democrats 29 41 31
Independents 48 29 23
9.18.2005 8:57am
JoeSlater (mail):
For better or for worse, I find it hard to believe that this is going to be a significant political issue for even Dems. in red or deep blue states. We have a war, Katrina and its aftermath, oil prices, the economy in general, and gosh knows what else that can happen in the next year or three. I'm guessing that "position on the Roberts nomination" is only going to matter to people that were going to vote a certain way anyway.
9.18.2005 12:54pm
Bezuhov (mail):
Except a lot of independents approach politics in a way similar to the one Roberts articulated in the hearings - collegial, open-minded, with a touch of humility. You may think he is lying through his teeth and have wonderful reasons for thinking that, but the fact is that lots (perhaps not quantity, but my experience tells me the quality is there - people with influence in their communities) of independents will identify with Roberts and thus will see Democratic rejection of him as alienating.

A similar dynamic hurt the Republicans in the Clinton impeachment.
9.19.2005 2:50am
There are two levels of opposition. The first is to vote against Roberts (and lose). The second is to use procedural rules to block a vote.

If most Democrats voted against Roberts, they would probably make their base happy without alienating the independents. But the Democrats would be in trouble if they tried to block a vote.

I hope a siginificant number of Democrats vote against Roberts, if only to send a message about the other open seat. My guess is that Bush/Rove want to try to run up the score for exactly the same reason.
9.19.2005 12:39pm
jgshapiro (mail):
If most Democrats voted against Roberts, they would probably make their base happy without alienating the independents.

The problem with this approach is it makes the Dems look obstructionist. That detracts from their credibility if/when they oppose the next nominee. It might also embolden Bush to pick someone more conservative than Roberts for the second seat, on the theory that having spent some of their political capital voting against Roberts, the Dems won't have much left to oppose O'Connor's replacement.

To defeat the next nominee, the Dems will have to look reasonable to the moderate Republicans they hope to persuade to defect, as well as to the public they hope to persuade to pressure the moderate Republicans to defect. The way to do this is to vote for Roberts, unless they have a smoking gun to point to, or enought votes to defeat him.
9.19.2005 10:55pm