July 10th, 2009
09:28 AM ET
9 years ago

CNN Poll: Do Americans want Sotomayor confirmed?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just three days before the start of Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, a new national poll indicates that by a narrow margin, Americans would like the Senate to confirm her as the next Supreme Court justice.

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday morning, 47 percent of people questioned would like to see the Senate vote in favor of Sotomayor's confirmation, with 40 percent opposed and 13 percent unsure.

Sotomayor, a New York federal appeals court judge, was nominated by President Barack Obama in May to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

The poll suggests a partisan divide, with nearly seven in 10 Democrats supporting Sotomayor's confirmation, Independents split, and nearly two out of three Republicans opposing Senate confirmation.

"Republican opposition to Sotomayor's confirmation is a higher level of opposition from the party out of power than any Supreme Court nominee has faced
in the past two decades," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Only 32 percent of Republicans opposed Ruth Ginsburg's 1993 nomination by President Bill Clinton to the high court, Holland said.

"In 2005, when it was the GOP's turn to appoint justices, only 35 percent of Democrats opposed John Roberts, and 46 percent of Democrats opposed Samuel Alito the following year," Holland said. "And even when Bush nominated Harriet Miers, opposition among Democrats to her confirmation hit only 53 percent."

The poll also indicates that Americans are split over whether senators are justified in voting against Sotomayor based solely on her stand on the issues.

Americans seem to agree that the confirmation hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which begin Monday, could turn into a partisan battle.

Six out of 10 said a major fight between Democrats and Republicans will occur, with 38 percent saying that the hearings will be a relatively easy process with bipartisan agreement.

The percentage of those who would like to see Sotomayor confirmed in the CNN poll is lower than in other national surveys released in the past few weeks.

"One possible reason why the CNN poll shows less support for Sotomayor than other recent polls is a difference in the question wording," Holland said.

"Polls by other organizations have described Sotomayor as Barack Obama's choice for the Supreme Court. But in order to make historical comparisons, the CNN poll used a question dating back to 1987 that does not mention the president's name."

Americans can be swayed by a familiar name - in this case Obama - when questioned about someone who has not been in the public eye, Holland said.

"Some of Obama's popularity may have rubbed off onto Sotomayor in polls conducted by other organizations," Holland said. "Ultimately, however, Supreme Court nominees rise or fall on their own merits."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey was conducted from June 26 to 28, with 1,026 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: CNN poll • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. nom deplume

    As an attorney and former constitutional scholar, I posit that there should be no surprise if there is a tough hearing and a party line vote. The modern politicization of the Court approval process started with the nomination, and subsequent character assasination of Robert Bork. The democrats in the 80's uncorked the bottle and let the genie of partisan politics out, and have attacked well-qualified and less well qualified candidates alike. They can hardly complain when it is their candidate being attacked for her politics when they invented the tactic.

    July 10, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  2. Matt

    Support her? Not really.

    Think she is qualified? Probably.

    Am depressed that after 30 years and billions of dollars in affirmative action that she is the "best" Latina (or should I say "wise Lastin") woman available for this post? Definitely.

    She is politically reliable and will always vote the way she is "supposed" to vote, but she does not appear to possess the legal intellect and gravitas of the remaining 8 members of the court. My guess is that she is going to wind up being marginalized by both the conservatives and the liberals on the court... simply because she is sp strident and don't appear to let the facts or the law influence her from reaching decisions that she believes to be correct.

    July 10, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  3. ET

    NO she's racial.

    July 10, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. Ms. Dana


    Has not made no worse of decisions then some of the judges who sit on the the Supreme Court right now and in the past. All judges, white or black make bad decisions sometimes and dont follow the law to determine cases!! Where was the outrage when some white jugdes would make bad calls on minority people based on their personal assuptions!!

    July 10, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  5. bill

    I'm a loyal Democrat and I cannot support this person for the Supreme Court considering her views that she has expressed in past court rulings.

    July 10, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    She is a real question mark since she hasn't declared a judical philosphy. We will hear more about her starting Monday. I hope to hear some good things and some fireworks.

    July 10, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  7. Carlos

    No Americans do not want this racist approved but unfortunately we are getting alot of things shoved up our tailpipes we don't want right now.

    July 10, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  8. Open Your 3rd Eye

    CNN please post this comment:

    Somebody please explain to me like a 2 year old why this woman should not be confirmed?

    Oh, that's right, because Obama nominated her, right?

    Gee, how could I forget.

    She is more than qualified and some of you ignoramuses had the nerve to attack her because of some off-the-wall comment about latina women's lives.

    Guess what fellas? She's right!

    None of you non-hispanic folks could ever put your self in a minority's shoes- period

    And because so many minority's grow up in or around poverty, their decisions based on situations as such could never be matched by some of you spoon fed, naive idiots at the top of the food chain.

    Take that to the bank

    July 10, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. CathyW

    Partisan politics as usual.

    July 10, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. Steve

    Forget it. Supreme Court was created to uphold the Constitution. It was not created for justices to interject their own feelings into their court decisions.

    July 10, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  11. Nellore S. Venkataraman

    Sotomayor's famous comment about Latina Wisdom is disturbing. The senate confirmation process should be thorough and grill her extensively on this issue. I live in Puerto Rico, but I am not Hispanic, Puerto Rico is a self governing US territory. All federal laws are applicable here. My experience and that of other non Puerto Ricans living here is, in courts or traffic accidents if a non Puerto Rican is pitted against a local, the authorities always give the benefit of doubt in favor of locals.

    July 10, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. haren

    USA has to go long before they accept a hundred percent non white candidate.

    July 10, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. J in NJ

    Yes, but only because she is BHO 's pick. Unfortunately most are like cows and just follow the herd.

    July 10, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. R in Maine

    Yes , we do. It is about time we put an intelligent and fair legal mind on the Supreme Court, not just another of those right-wing fascists. She will be a great Justice.

    July 10, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  15. Dubuque, IA

    She may be a good person with good intentions, but I believe her history has shown that she oversteps the boundaries when it come to being a judge.


    President Obama, please give us someone we all can fully back. I am yearning for unity.

    July 10, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  16. Anny

    What do you expect from the Republicans? Come on, by now we all know that they will vote against anything President Obama does........she will make a great addition to the Supreme court and will be confirmed.......so give it up GOP you are just continuing to show your "We Want Obama To Fail" position..........You have a lot more to be concerned about with Palin and what she is going to do to the GOP chances in the future, for Huckabee and Romney they better get some leverage on her or she will rob them again of their chances for the White House......she might inspire some of you conservatives but conservatives do not make up the majority of this country.........

    July 10, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  17. Claire, NH

    Yes, we want her confirmed now.

    July 10, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  18. florida indep

    I don't care much one way or the other after all the "winners" we have on the court now. How about someone with a voice of reason and not just of political and personal ideology? I don't think she is half as bad as the republicans will try to make her out to be nor half as good as the democrats will try to make her out to be. Maybe her role on the court can be as mitigator between the extremes we now have.

    July 10, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  19. sifto77

    If they do, it is because of Obama–she certainly appears to be biased against whites.

    July 10, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  20. Jim in Florida

    Doesn't matter what Americans want anymore. We don't want another "stimulus" package but that isn't going to stop the left wing of the Democratic Party.

    One would think Obama could have picked a more QUALIFIED candidate for the highest court in the land.

    July 10, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  21. Deb n Texas

    Yes, Americans who voted for Obama want Sotomayor confirmed. And you know what – that's ENOUGH Americans right there.

    July 10, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  22. Kevin in Minnesota

    If this poll had been about a conservative justice nominee, you would have:

    1) pointed out that statistically, this is a dead heat, not a narrow approval, because your sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, making it as close as only 44% to 43% in favor;

    2) NOT let your polling director give cover to this fact by pointing out "One possible reason why the CNN poll shows less support for Sotomayor than other recent polls is a difference in the question wording."

    Your liberal leanings are crystal clear to anyone outside your newsroom.

    July 10, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  23. Ken

    Another affirmitive action malcontent

    July 10, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  24. DAVE N CA

    she should not be confirmed...... if you believe obama is an evil individual you haven't seen anything yet.... she should be placed in traffic court making decisions on whether someone crossed the street illegaly and that is all.....

    July 10, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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