In light of a politically contentious battle between President Obama and Senate Republicans concerning Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, a new PSB national poll on behalf of Fix the Court suggests that the outcome will not only be watched by the media and Washington politicos but will also have a real impact at the ballot box.
Nearly half (46 percent) of likely voters rank the current Supreme Court vacancy as among the most important domestic issues in the 2016 presidential election. This is a statistically significant, six-percentage-point increase from last month.
“The fact that the Supreme Court vacancy is rated so strongly when compared to other pressing national issues demonstrates that voters are seriously paying attention to the court now,” Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth said.
“We asked the exact same questions prior to Justice Scalia’s death last month,” PSB Principal Robert Green added, “and no single issue saw such a major jump.” In recent years, Green has conducted a several studies about public attitudes toward the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of groups such as C-SPAN and Fix the Court.
A total of 1,099 likely voters were asked March 8-11 to rank a list of six domestic issues on a scale from 1 to 5 based on how important each issue is to their 2016 presidential vote, where 1 meant “least important” and 5 meant “most important.” In addition to Supreme Court vacancies, the list included other major issues such as improving the economy, health care reform and immigration reform.
Older and more educated voters were most likely to say that the Supreme Court vacancy is important to their presidential vote. Thirty-five percent of voters age 65 or older rated the SCOTUS issue as a “5” (most important), which is nearly twice as many as voters 18-34 year olds (18 percent). Similarly, nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of college graduates rated the Supreme Court vacancy as a “5,” compared to just 15 percent of those who hold a high school degree or less.
“The older one is the more one comes to realize how much Supreme Court decisions can impact the country and everyday life,” Green said. “The current controversy in the midst of an election year is especially leading many of these voters to pay close attention.”
ABOUT PSB: PSB is a global strategic communication advisory rooted in the science of public opinion that specializes in messaging and strategy for blue-chip political, corporate, and entertainment clients. PSB has 40+ years of experience in leveraging unique insights about consumer opinion to provide clients with a competitive advantage, what we call Winning Knowledge™.
ABOUT FIX THE COURT: Fix the Court is a national, non-partisan grassroots organization created to take the Supreme Court to task for its lack of accountability and transparency and to push Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s eight associate justices to enact basic yet critical reforms to make the court more open. It educates Americans about the many problems plaguing the court and its justices and is building a movement of conservatives, independents and progressives demanding change with a common voice.