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Support For Kagan Remains Steady

 

PRINCETON, NJ -- Just under half of Americans -- 46% -- would like to see the U.S. Senate vote to confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, a bit more than the 36% who disagree. Public support for Kagan has been fairly steady at this level since May, just prior to the start of her Senate confirmation hearings.

Kagan has reportedly won over enough Senate Republicans to assure her confirmation this week as the fourth female U.S. Supreme Court justice. If confirmed, she will be the first Supreme Court nominee in recent polling history to succeed with less than half of Americans in favor.

The 36% who oppose Kagan is identical to the percentage who opposed confirming Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor a year ago, but it is higher than the rates of opposition Gallup found to both of George W. Bush's successful nominees -- Samuel Alito and John Roberts.

Support for Kagan Lower Across the Board

Compared with public support for Sotomayor at a similar point on her path to the high court, support for Kagan is lower across the board -- including across gender, age, and political lines.

Notably, while both women were nominated by Democratic President Barack Obama, Democrats are less likely to say the Senate should vote in favor of Kagan (70%) than they were to say this about Sotomayor (80%). However, Democratic opposition is identical, at 13%. Democrats are simply much more likely to have no opinion of Kagan than they were of Sotomayor (17% vs. 7%) -- similar to the pattern among all Americans.

Bottom Line

Americans generally favor Senate confirmation of Elena Kagan to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court, but the 46% to 36% margin in favor is weak by historical standards. To some extent this is due to Americans' lack of familiarity with her, but the 36% opposed is also high for a successful nominee.



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