How do opinions about Ketanji Brown Jackson compare to views on prior nominees?

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
March 04, 2022, 6:55 PM GMT+0

Confirmation hearings for Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, are scheduled to begin later this month. A few days after her nomination, YouGov asked Americans to share their views on her, including her qualifications, ideology, and whether or not they think she should be confirmed.

After their nomination, we asked similar questions about the three nominees who preceded her and now sit on the Supreme Court, including Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch, all of whom were nominated by former President Donald Trump. Compared to the other recent nominees, Jackson is about as well-known and about as likely to be seen as qualified; she’s more likely to be seen as moderate and slightly less likely to be opposed.

Americans are about as likely to have heard about Jackson’s nomination as they were to have heard about the prior three nominees. Three in 10 say they’ve heard a lot about her nomination, while half say they’ve heard a little, and two in 10 say they’ve heard nothing at all. There is a gap, though, in how many say they’ve heard a lot about Jackson. While 51% of Americans said they’d heard a lot about Barrett, just 31% said the same about Jackson. This poll was conducted in the days after Biden announced Jackson as his nominee, while the earlier polls came a little longer after the prior nominees’ announcements, which could explain some of the awareness gap.

In terms of Jackson’s qualifications, Americans with an opinion view her as about as qualified as prior nominees: 43% say she is qualified while 19% say she is not. Fewer are familiar with her qualifications than were familiar with those of the previous nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

When asked about her ideology, most Americans who have an opinion on the matter say Jackson is on the left: 30% say she is liberal and another 30% say she is very liberal. However, Jackson is currently seen as more moderate than the nominees who came before her. While 29% of Americans with an opinion on her ideology say she is moderate, just 12% to 18% of those who had an opinion about each of the previous three nominees’ ideology said the same about them.

More Americans are supportive of Jackson being confirmed by the Senate as a Supreme Court Justice than were of Barrett: 42% opposed Barrett’s confirmation while only 25% say they oppose Jackson’s.

- Carl Bialik contributed to this article.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between February 26 and March 1, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty