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Voters Say Supreme Court Pick Who Pleases Both Parties Unlikely

Voters think it’s unlikely President Trump could nominate anyone to the U.S. Supreme Court who would appeal to both Republicans and Democrats, but they still don’t like the Senate changing its rules to make it easier for a nominee to be confirmed.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 42% of Likely U.S. Voters think it is possible for the president to find a Supreme Court nominee that the majority of both Democrats and Republicans would support, but that includes only 13% who say it is Very Possible.  Most (53%) think it’s not possible for Trump to nominate someone to the high court who is acceptable to both parties, with 21% who say it is Not At All Possible. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

In the Senate, a filibuster can prevent a vote on a presidential nominee from taking place unless 60 senators agree. But only 33% favor changing the rules to eliminate the filibuster for all presidential nominees. Fifty-two percent (52%) oppose such a rule change, while 15% are undecided. Four years ago, 44% favored such a change, while 38% were opposed.

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In a seeming contradiction, however, 53% of voters still believe every person the president nominates to serve as a judge or in a government position should receive an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate. Only 22% disagree, but one-in-four (25%) are not sure.

Support for a vote on every presidential nominee is down, though, from a high of 62% in early February. Support ranged from 50% to 58% in previous surveys dating back to 2013.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 5-6, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

As recently as two weeks ago, voters remained confident that Judge Neil Gorsuch will be approved by the Senate for the Supreme Court and felt opposition to the president’s first high court nominee is driven more by politics than by concerns about his judicial thinking

Senate Republicans have exercised the so-called "nuclear option," reducing the numbers of votes needed to confirm a Supreme Court nominee to a simple majority, following unified Democratic opposition to Gorsuch. He is expected to be confirmed as early as today to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Most voters across the partisan spectrum agree that it’s not possible for the president to find a Supreme Court nominee that the majority of both Democrats and Republicans would support

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters in both major parties believe, though, that every person the president nominates to serve as a judge or in a governmental position should receive a Senate vote, a view shared by just 46% of unaffiliated voters. But while 52% of Republicans favor changing the rules to eliminate the filibuster for all presidential nominees, 70% of Democrats and a plurality (49%) of unaffiliateds are opposed.

Even among voters who think every presidential nominee deserves a vote, only 38% favor getting rid of the filibuster.

But 64% of those who support a rules change to eliminate the filibuster say it is not possible for the president to find a Supreme Court nominee who will satisfy the majority of both Republicans and Democrats. Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters who oppose changing the rules think it is possible to find such a nominee.

Based on their views of the U.S. Constitution and the role of judges in interpreting it, voters tend to see Gorsuch in the judicial mainstream.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Democrats and 54% of unaffiliated voters rate the Republican Congress’ leadership style as too confrontational, but only 31% of GOP voters agree. 

Most voters agree, however, that it’s bad for America and bad for the Democratic Party if Democrats continue to oppose everything the president does. Even Democrats are conflicted about their party’s scorched earth policy.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of all voters now believe that politics in Washington, D.C. will become even more partisan over the next year.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 5-6, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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