Amy Coney Barrett is seen as qualified — but voters don’t want Roe v. Wade overturned

Linley SandersData Journalist
October 02, 2020, 12:00 PM UTC

Voters appear largely divided about what to make of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.  

They are slightly more likely to view her favorably (37%) than unfavorably (30%), but one-third still don’t know enough about her (33%), according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll. Voters are also split on whether Barrett should be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice (39%) or not (38%) — a fact that has remained largely unchanged since she was announced as the nominee

But that’s not to say voters doubt the federal appellate judge and Notre Dame law professor is up to the job. Voters are twice as likely to call Barrett qualified (46%) as unqualified (20%) to be Supreme Court justice, with one-third (34%) being uncertain. About three-quarters (77%) of Republicans believe she has the qualifications to serve on the nation’s highest court, as do one in five (20%) Democrats. 

There’s virtually no doubt among voters that Barrett will be a steady conservative presence on the Supreme Court if confirmed. About two-thirds of voters describe Barrett as conservative (30%) or very conservative (35%). Only about one in 14 describe her as a moderate (7%). About half of Republicans (45%) see President Trump’s most recent nominee as a conservative, while most Democrats see her as very conservative (52%).  

Supreme Court

There has been speculation that Barrett’s presence on the Court may mean an impending attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade — the 1973 decision that guaranteed access to abortion. That has only been bolstered by President Trump’s 2016 promise to appoint “pro-life judges” who would give individual states the right to restrict abortion. 

Amid her consideration, Barrett’s affiliation with right-to-life organizations has come under scrutiny. On Thursday, The Guardian published articles revealing that Barrett signed onto letters authored by the St. Joseph County Right to Life organization saying that life begins at fertilization, referring to Roe v. Wade as “barbaric,” and calling for it to be overturned. 

The Economist/YouGov Poll indicates that most voters (56%) do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, including a quarter of Trump supporters (26%) and Republicans (24%). Unsurprisingly, therefore, Barrett is unpopular among voters who want the ruling upheld, with 47% saying they hold an unfavorable view of the nominee compared to 20% who have a favorable view. 

By contrast, almost two-thirds (64%) of those who want the landmark ruling overturned have a favorable view of her. Perhaps surprisingly this figure is actually higher among Trump supporters who do not want Roe v Wade overturned (68%), and it is, of course, higher still among Trump supporters who want the abortion ruling scrapped (77%).

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 registered voters interviewed online between September 27 – 30, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.8% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty