Alito's Ratings Similar to Miers', Lower Than Roberts'

by David W. Moore

Majority says Supreme Court nominee should be rejected if opposed to Roe v. Wade

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans greet the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court with about the same degree of enthusiasm they had for Harriet Miers, but less than they had for John Roberts.

CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls have been conducted shortly after the announcement of all three individuals nominated by President Bush since July 19, allowing for comparisons of the initial public reaction to each. The latest poll, asking the public about Alito, was conducted Tuesday night.

  • About the same number of Americans rate Alito's selection either excellent or good (43%) as rate it fair or poor (39%). Miers received a similar rating, but Roberts' rating was somewhat more positive: 51% excellent or good, 34% fair or poor.
  • More people feel positive rather than negative about Alito personally -- 44% to 19%, respectively -- with another third offering no rating. Again, Miers' rating was similar, but a majority, 54%, gave Roberts a favorable personal rating.
  • About half of those interviewed Tuesday night believe Alito's views are mainstream, while a quarter think his views are too extreme, and another quarter have no opinion.
  • It doesn't bother most Americans (75%) that Alito is a man nominated to replace the first woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court. About the same percentage were not bothered when Roberts was first nominated to replace O'Connor (after Chief Justice William Rehnquist died, President Bush nominated Roberts to become chief justice).
  • The public is evenly divided as to whether Alito probably would or would not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Thirty-eight percent believe he would, and an equal percentage think he would not, with the rest offering no opinion.
  • If it becomes clear Alito would vote to reverse Roe v. Wade, Americans would not want the Senate to confirm him, by 53% to 37%.
  • If most Senate Democrats oppose the nomination and decide to filibuster against Alito, 50% of Americans believe they would be justified, while 40% say they would not.
  • If the Republicans then decide to eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominations, to ensure an "up-or-down vote" on the nomination, Americans would be evenly divided as to whether that tactic was justified -- 45% say it would be, 47% say it would not.

The views about Alito, especially whether he should be confirmed if he opposes Roe v. Wade, are highly partisan. Majorities of Republicans and conservatives favor confirmation in that circumstance, while even larger majorities of independents, Democrats, moderates, and liberals are opposed.

If you were convinced that Alito would vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, would you, personally, want the Senate vote to confirm him to the Supreme Court, or not?

Yes, confirm

No, not

No
opinion

%

%

%

All

37

53

10

Republicans

56

35

9

Independents

33

60

7

Democrats

26

67

7

Conservatives

54

38

8

Moderates

32

60

8

Liberals

20

73

7

Similar patterns are found on the filibuster questions. Independents, Democrats, moderates, and liberals all favor the Democrats' use of the filibuster and oppose any Senate effort to eliminate the tactic for judicial nominations, while both conservatives and Republicans take the opposite positions.

Suppose all or most of the Democrats in the Senate oppose Alito's nomination. Do you think they would be justified -- or not justified -- in using Senate procedures, such as the filibuster, to prevent an up-or-down vote on his nomination?

Justified

Not
justified

No
opinion

%

%

%

All

50

40

10

Republicans

29

63

8

Independents

50

43

7

Democrats

75

17

8

Conservatives

38

54

8

Moderates

55

37

8

Liberals

76

21

3

If that happens, the Republicans in the Senate would consider changing Senate procedures to eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominations, which would ensure an up-or-down vote on the nomination. Do you think the Republicans in the Senate would be justified -- or not justified -- in doing this?

Justified

Not
justified

No
opinion

%

%

%

All

45

47

8

Republicans

67

26

7

Independents

44

52

4

Democrats

23

70

7

Conservatives

54

41

5

Moderates

41

53

6

Liberals

34

63

3

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 603 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 1, 2005. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 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.

As you may know, President Bush has nominated [name] to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

1. Generally speaking, how would you rate Bush's choice of [name] as a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court -- as excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

Excellent

Good

Only
fair

Poor

No
opinion

Samuel Alito 2005 Nov 1

17%

26

22

17

18

Harriet Miers 2005 Oct 3-4

11%

33

25

16

15

John Roberts 2005 Jul 20

25%

26

20

14

15

Next, thinking about [name] himself/herself,

2. How would you describe your first impressions of him/her? Would you say they are -- [ROTATED: very positive, somewhat positive, neither positive nor negative, somewhat negative, (or) very negative]?

Very
posi-
tive

Some-what
posi-
tive

Neither

Some-what
nega-
tive

Very
nega-
tive

No
opinion

Samuel Alito 2005 Nov 1

17%

27

23

12

7

14

Harriet Miers 2005 Oct 3-4

14%

28

34

10

4

10

John Roberts 2005 Jul 20

26%

28

21

8

7

10

3. Based on what you have heard or read about him, do you think Alito's views on important issues are in the mainstream or do you think they are too extreme?

Mainstream

Too
extreme

No
opinion

2005 Nov 1

51%

26

23

Next,

4. As you may know, [Alito/Roberts] was nominated to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. Does it bother you that President Bush did not nominate a woman to replace O'Connor, or does it not bother you?

Yes,
bother you

No,
does not

No
opinion

Alito 2005 Nov 1

23%

75

2

Roberts 2005 Jul 20

21%

77

2

5. Just your best guess, if Alito were confirmed to the Supreme Court, do you think he would -- or would not -- vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion?

Yes, would
overturn

No,
would not

No
opinion

2005 Nov 1

38%

38

24

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/19567/alitos-ratings-similar-miers-lower-than-roberts.aspx
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