Flash Polls, Politics, Spring 2016 Articles, Supreme Court

Supreme Partisanship

In this image released by the Supreme Court of the United States, President Barack Obama talks with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, back to camera, Justice Antonin Scalia, left, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, second right, in the Justices Conference Room prior to the Investiture Ceremony for Justice Sonia Sotomayor Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009, in Washington. (AP Photo/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Steve Petteway)
In this image released by the Supreme Court of the United States, President Barack Obama talks with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, back to camera, Justice Antonin Scalia, left, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, second right, in the Justices Conference Room prior to the Investiture Ceremony for Justice Sonia Sotomayor Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009, in Washington. (AP Photo/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Steve Petteway)

As previously noted in prior Pack Poll article, the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scalia has turned into a partisan slug-out to determine whether or not President Obama should nominate the next Supreme Court Justice or defer to the next president. Given the nature of partisan politics, it is unsurprising that there is a partisan divide between whether or not Obama should nominate a candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy or not.

However, partisan differences of opinion about replacing Scalia are not perfectly asymmetrical. Those identifying as strong democrats or strong republicans support their party’s side by north of 90%. However, weak democrats and weak republicans have a large gap in their support; weak democrats support nomination by Obama by over 90%, while weak republicans only support a nomination by the next president by a 60/40 margin.

Additionally, when those who identified as “Independent” were asked whether or not they leaned towards either the Democratic or Republican Party, they possessed very similar opinions as those who only weakly unidentified with a party. Our results are consistent with other polling like that discussed in a Washington Post article that used Gallup data. Then, like now, respondents who identified as “weak” partisans held opinions nearly identical to independents that leaned towards a particular party.

The reason for this divide may lay in the fact that while 80% of democrats view Obama favorably, the GOP is currently in a contentious primary fight, and they have yet to form a clear opinion as to whether or not they’d feel comfortable with the “next” president nominating a candidate.

NOTE ON METHODOLOGY:  This “flash poll” took place February 23-25, 2016. The survey was administered over the internet to a random sample of 3,500 NCSU undergraduates, generating a 22% response rate for completed surveys (and 25% for partially completed). Sampling error is +/-3.5% for completed interviews and questions asked of the full sample; it is higher for sub-groups and questions asked of only portions of the full sample.

In addition to sampling error, other forms of error occur in surveys, such as confusion about question wording or the order of questions, but these are not precisely quantifiable. We do not apply post-stratification sample weights to adjust for possible demographic imbalances in this survey because we did not ask about known student demographics such as year in school or gender.

Click here to see a PDF file for the full set of results: Scaliatoplines

Feel free to email us if you have any questions.

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