Last week Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a conservative federal appellate judge, to the Supreme Court. Though most Americans do not yet have an opinion on Gorsuch, recent polling states that a conservative pick is supported by Americans.
The Supreme Court nomination was an important issue to 2016 voters. According to NBC News exit polling, one-in-five voters said that an appointment to the Supreme Court was the “single most important factor” in deciding their presidential vote in the 2016 election. This is in sharp contrast to the 2008 presidential election, where only 7 percent of respondents said it was the “single most important factor”.
Broken down by voter’s pick for the Presidency, nearly three-in-ten (27%) Trump voters said Supreme Court appointments were the “most important factor”, while only 19% of Clinton voters said the same.
NBC Exit Poll asked: In deciding your vote for president, were future appointments to the Supreme Court: 1) the single most important factor 2) One of several important factors 3) A minor factor 4) Not a factor at all
Since 1991, Gallup has been asking American’s their opinion on the ideological balance of the Court. And since 2009, three-in-ten American’s have said the Court is “too liberal”, while two-in-ten have said “too conservative”. In July 2010 (before Kagan was confirmed, but after Sotomayor, both of whom replaced liberal-siding members), 36% of respondents said the Court had become “more liberal” in the past five years, while only 16% said the Court had become “more conservative”.
According to a CBS News Poll conducted after the announcement, 34% of respondents wanted the next Supreme Court justice to be a conservative, while 36% preferred a moderate, and 21% preferred a liberal.
Going through past nominations, Gorsuch stands a good chance of being confirmed based on initial public opinion polling. According to a CNN/ORC poll conducted immediately after the announcement, 49% of respondents think the Senate should vote in favor, while 36% think the Senate should vote against.
Gallup has been asking respondents if the Senate should confirm various picks since 1987, and appointments that were later confirmed followed a same public opinion trend that Gorusch has started to show. John Roberts nomination was favored 59%/22% after his nomination was announced, Samuel Alito was favored 50%/25%, and Elena Kagen (the most recent confirmed nominee) was favored 46%/32%.