Politics

Public More Pleased Than Disappointed by Miers' Withdrawal

More concern about her qualifications and closeness to Bush than her ideology

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- By a small margin, the American public is more pleased than disappointed with Harriet Miers' withdrawal as President Bush's nominee to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy being created by the impending retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor.

The results of a special CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Thursday night suggest that Americans who are pleased with Miers' withdrawal are mostly concerned about Miers' qualifications and her closeness to Bush, rather than her ideology.

The poll contains some good news for Bush; most Americans consider Miers' withdrawal to be only a minor setback for the president, or no setback at all. Going forward, about 4 in 10 Americans want Bush's new nominee to be conservative, but only 3 in 10 think it is very important that he nominate another woman to replace O'Connor.

Most of the results of the special one-night poll are consistent with previous CNN/USA Today/Gallup polling. In Gallup's Oct. 21-23 poll, a plurality of Americans thought the Senate should reject the Miers nomination, and also showed significant disappointment over Bush's choice.

Initial Reaction

The Thursday night instant-reaction poll found that by a 42% to 35% margin, Americans are more pleased than disappointed by Miers' withdrawal.

As you may know, President Bush withdrew his nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court today.

First,

Would you say you are pleased or disappointed that Harriet Miers' nomination was withdrawn?

Pleased

Disappointed

No opinion

2005 Oct 27

42%

35

23

This sentiment is roughly in line with results from this past weekend's poll in which Americans were asked about Bush's nomination of Miers. That poll found that 40 % of Americans were pleased with Bush's choice, while 50% were disappointed.

Although the Thursday night poll's sample size is relatively small, it is informative to look at the responses by the self-reported ideology, partisanship, and gender of those interviewed.

Initial Reaction to Miers' Withdrawal

Pleased

Disappointed

TOTAL SAMPLE

42%

35%

Conservatives

34

44

Moderates

45

33

Liberals

55*

25*

Republicans

31

53

Independents

39

33

Democrats

55

25

Men

47

32

Women

38

37

*Small sample size

The pattern of these responses follows typical lines. Conservatives and Republicans are most likely to be disappointed. This suggests rank-and-file conservatives may have been less negative about the nomination than highly visible conservative pundits and columnists.

Still, only 44% of conservatives describe themselves as disappointed with the withdrawal, while 34% are pleased (more than one in five conservatives didn't have an opinion in response to this question).

Men are more pleased than disappointed; women split almost precisely even in their reactions.

The Thursday night poll asked respondents who say they are pleased by the Miers withdrawal to indicate which of four possible explanations is the most important reason for their pleasure.

If you had to choose among the following, which would you say is the most important reason why you are pleased that Harriet Miers' nomination was withdrawn -- [ROTATED: her views are too conservative, her views are not conservative enough, she does not have strong enough qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court, (or) she is too close to George W. Bush personally]?

BASED ON 241 ADULTS WHO SAY THEY ARE PLEASED THAT MIERS' NOMINATION WAS WITHDRAWN


Views too
conservative

Views not
conservative enough

Does not
have strong qualifications

Too close
to Bush personally


No
opinion

2005 Oct 27

8%

4

49

35

4

Few of those who are pleased by the withdrawal say it was either because Miers was too conservative or because she was not conservative enough.

Instead, nearly half say they are pleased because Miers does not have strong enough qualifications, and a third feel she is too close to the president.

Impact on Bush

The long-term effect of the failed nomination on Bush is impossible to predict at this point. By all indications, Bush will name a new nominee in very short order, and the focus on that person will no doubt take attention away from the Miers situation in the days and weeks ahead.

For their part, Americans are highly likely to say that the Miers affair will be a minor setback or no setback at all for the Bush administration.

Do you consider the withdrawal of Harriet Miers to be a major setback for the Bush administration, a minor setback, or not a setback at all?

Major
setback

Minor
setback

Not a setback
at all

No
opinion

2005 Oct 27

16%

42

34

8

Only 16% say it is a major setback, 42% say it is a minor setback, and 34% say it is not a setback at all.

Conservatives and Republicans are predictably less likely than other groups surveyed to say that it is a major setback.

Looking Ahead

Gallup polling has consistently shown that Americans have not been convinced that it is strongly necessary for Bush to nominate a woman to replace O'Connor.

The Thursday night poll confirms these findings.

Now that George W. Bush has withdrawn his nomination of Harriet Miers, how important is it to you that he nominates another woman to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court -- very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important?

Very
important

Somewhat
important

Not too
important

Not at all
important

No
opinion

2005 Oct 27

30%

29

14

25

2

Only 3 in 10 Americans interviewed say that it is very important that the new nominee be a woman, while another 29% say it is somewhat important. Roughly 4 in 10 say it is not too important or not at all important.

Are women more concerned than men that Bush's new nominee be a woman? The answer to that question is "yes," by a small margin. Thirty-six percent of women say it is very important that the new nominee be a woman, compared with 24% of men.

How Important Is It That Bush Nominate Another Woman to Replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court?

Very
important

Somewhat
important

Not important/
Not at all important

TOTAL SAMPLE

30%

29%

39%

Men

24

28

47

Women

36

30

32

Republicans and conservatives -- Bush's base -- are less likely to think it is important that the new nominee be a woman than are others.

Should the new nominee be conservative? Americans give a mixed response to this question.

Do you think George W. Bush should nominate someone to the Supreme Court who is -- [ROTATED: very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, somewhat liberal, (or) very liberal]?

Very
conservative

Somewhat
conservative


Moderate

Somewhat
liberal

Very
liberal

No
opinion

2005 Oct 27

14%

23

34

16

8

5

A little more than a third would like the new nominee to be conservative (with more of these saying "somewhat conservative" than "very conservative"). About one in four say the new nominee should be liberal, and a third say that the nominee should be moderate.

Not surprisingly, about two-thirds of both conservatives and Republicans say that the new nominee should be conservative.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 516 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 27, 2005. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/19492/Public-More-Pleased-Than-Disappointed-Miers-Withdrawal.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030