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CNN Poll: Americans are divided over Amy Coney Barrett

Americans are split on Supreme Court nominee...

Posted: Oct 7, 2020 10:25 AM

Americans are split on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, with 46% saying they do not want the Senate to send her to the high court and 42% saying the Senate should confirm her in a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.

Barrett, President Donald Trump's pick to fill the Supreme Court seat previously held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, faces an uncertain process ahead, as coronavirus infections among Senate Republicans threaten to derail the fast-track confirmation process the Senate's majority party had in mind.

A majority of Republicans in the poll want Barrett confirmed (83%), while independents are split (42% do, 42% do not), and only 8% of Democrats support the Senate voting to confirm the federal judge.

Initial reactions to Barrett are among the worst in CNN and Gallup polling on 12 potential justices dating back to Robert Bork, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan and rejected by the Senate. Barrett and Trump's second nominee to the court, Brett Kavanaugh, are the only two for whom opposition outweighed support in initial polling on their nominations.

Democrats have called on Trump's nominee to recuse herself from cases related to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, which Barrett has not committed to doing. More than half (56%) of Americans think Barrett should recuse herself from cases on the presidential election, while 34% don't. Opinions on this question are divided by party, but even among Republicans, 32% say Barrett should promise to recuse herself from cases about the election; 53% of independents and 82% of Democrats agree.

With Trump lauding Barrett's conservative credentials, Americans are divided over where Barrett's ideology stands. 43% she would be too conservative of a justice, while 41% say she's just about right.

More Americans have a positive first impression of Barrett (38%) than neutral (25%) or negative (29%). Again, the judge's first impression is less positive than previous nominees tested in CNN polling, including John Roberts, who was nominated by George W. Bush, at 54% positive and Merrick Garland, nominated by Barack Obama, at 45% positive. Her ratings are about on par with Trump's first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, with 39% positive. Kavanaugh fared a bit worse than Barrett: 33% held a positive opinion of him.

The Affordable Care Act will come before the Court just a week after Election Day, and its future could be in doubt should the Senate confirm Barrett before that case is heard. A majority of 61% of Americans say they don't want the Supreme Court to overturn the law often referred to as Obamacare, with 32% who support overturning it.

Opposition to overturning the law is near unanimous among Democrats (96%), and most independents agree (62%). Among Republicans, 73% think the Court should overturn the law, while 19% say it should not, according to the poll.

More than half (57%) favor Obamacare, up from 50% in 2017. The law has become more popular in recent years than it was in the years immediately following its passage.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS October 1 through 4 among a random national sample of 1,205 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

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