Both sides of the polarized public care about the Supreme Court

October 22, 2020, 2:52 PM UTC

Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination for the Supreme Court cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, heading toward a full Senate vote early next week ahead of the presidential election. The latest Economist/YouGov Poll shows that the issue continues to matter a great deal to voters. More than two in five Biden supporters (44%) and Trump supporters (43%) say the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice is very important to their vote. 

Barrett’s nomination continues to divide voters. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, a majority of voters say she is qualified for the role (though supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden disagree), but voters are split on whether she should be confirmed. 

One in four Biden voters believe Barrett is qualified, but just 8% would confirm her. Part of the issue with them is the timing. More than four in five Biden voters want to wait to fill the seat left vacant by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death until after those elected in November (including a possible new President) take office. More than four in five Trump voters, on the other hand, want her confirmation to come before the election. 

Barrett is seen as a conservative, but how conservative depends on the voter. Two-thirds of Biden voters call her “very conservative,” while to a majority of Trump supporters she is only “somewhat conservative.” 

Most voters say the Senate’s top priority should be passing a COVID relief package rather than confirming Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court 

There are other issues that voters place ahead of filling this Court seat – most notably a second COVID relief stimulus bill. Two-thirds of voters want the stimulus first, including about one-third of Trump supporters. 

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Republican women voters are about 10 points more likely than GOP men to want to prioritize a COVID relief package.  

The Barrett nomination has prompted some Democrats to consider adding seats to the Supreme Court. It is an unpopular solution – just as it was when proposed in the 1930s by President Franklin Roosevelt, after the Court invalidated many of his proposals to end the Depression. Half believe Biden will try to “pack” the Court if elected, including three in four Trump supporters and three in ten Biden voters. Most Biden supporters support the idea (59%), but Trump voters oppose it at an even greater rate (81%). 

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 October 18 - 20, 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 2.9% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty