WASHINGTON – A slight majority of American voters oppose the Senate holding confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that begin Monday, though opposition has eased since President Trump announced his choice to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The national poll finds 44% of registered voters say the U.S. Senate should hold hearings and vote on Barrett’s nomination, while 52% say filling this Supreme Court seat should be left to the winner of the presidential election and a Senate vote next year. Support for leaving the decision to the next president is down from 57% in a Post-ABC poll last month that asked whether the Senate should confirm Trump’s nominee, who had not yet been named.
Voters hold more lopsided views on the court’s ruling in the 1973 landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, with 62% saying the Supreme Court should uphold the decision that guarantees a woman’s right to abortion, while 24% say it should be overturned and a sizable 14% have no opinion.
Abortion is likely to be a focus of questioning during hearings given the sharp partisan divide on the issue as well as Barrett’s conservative judicial philosophy and anti-abortion positions. In 2006, Barrett signed her name to an Indiana newspaper advertisement in the South Bend Tribune that called for Roe vs. Wade to be overturned and denounced the ruling’s “barbaric legacy.”
The Post-ABC poll finds 81% of Democrats and 63% of independent voters say the court should uphold its decision in Roe. Republicans are roughly divided, with 40% saying it should be upheld while 44% say it should be overturned.
Support for overturning the decision reaches a majority only among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters who identify as “very conservative” (57%) or among White evangelical Protestant Republicans (51%). White evangelical Protestants overall – not just those who lean Republican – are split, with 44% saying Roe should be overturned and 41% saying it should be upheld.
A 60% majority of Catholics and 62% of White Catholics say Roe should be upheld, while fewer than 3 in 10 of either group say it should be overturned. Support for upholding the ruling rises to 73% among White mainline Protestants and 75% of voters who do not affiliate with any religious group.
Partisanship deeply colors views on how the Senate should proceed, with 77% of Republicans saying the Senate should hold hearings for Barrett and 83% of Democrats in favor of leaving the decision to the winner of the presidential election.
Two key groups shifted in recent weeks on the question of who should nominate the next Supreme Court justice. In September, 63% of independent voters said it should be left to the winner of the next election. That has decreased to 51% in the latest poll, making independents roughly split, with 46% saying the Senate should hold hearings.
Almost two-thirds of women (65%) said the Supreme Court nominee should be left to the next president immediately after Ginsburg’s death, 55% say the same now.
The politics of abortion rights can be difficult for parties to navigate, with advocates and elected leaders deeply polarized even though most Americans say abortion should be legal in some circumstances, but not all.
A 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation poll (KFF) found about 6 in 10 Americans said abortion should be legal in either “all” or “some” cases, including 27% who said it should be legal in all cases while 32% said it should be legal in “most cases.” Among the roughly 4 in 10 who said abortion should be mostly illegal, 30% said it should be illegal in “most cases,” with 11% saying it should be “illegal in all cases.”
The partisan divide is sharp on the issue of abortion’s overall legality in the KFF survey, though fewer than half of Democrats said abortion should be legal in all cases (44%), while a smaller 20% of Republicans said it should be illegal in all cases.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 6 through 9 among a random national sample of 1,014 adults, including 879 registered voters. Three-quarters of the sample were reached on cellphones, and the remaining quarter were reached on landlines. Results among registered voters have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The error margins are larger among subgroups.