Poll: 59 Percent Think Election Winner Should Appoint Ginsburg Replacement

September 23, 2020 Updated: September 23, 2020

Nearly three out of five Americans think the winner of the presidential election on Nov. 3 should appoint the justice to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to a CNN poll (pdf).

The survey, conducted days after Ginsburg’s passing, found that 59 percent of 901 respondents believed that the winner of the election should make the appointment, while 41 percent said that President Donald Trump should make the appointment now.

Ginsburg died on Sept. 18 after a years-long battle with cancer. She was considered the leader of the liberal side of the Supreme Court bench. A conservative appointment by Trump, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, could shift the court to a conservative supermajority for decades.

The small sample size in the survey resulted in a larger-than-usual margin of error of 4 percent, leaving open the possibility that the actual situation is closer to the national polling on questions about the electoral prospect of Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

The results were inverted when the same question was asked in March 2016, right after President Barack Obama appointed Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. At the time, 57 percent said Obama should make the appointment and 40 percent said the choice should be up to the winner of the election.

Views on who should appoint the justice are split among hyper-partisan lines, according to the new poll. Nearly every Democrat surveyed (97 percent) said that the election winner should make the appointment. Meanwhile, only 17 percent of Republicans thought the same.

Six out of 10 respondents who identified as independents and members of other parties favored the election winner to make the choice. Independents and members of other parties made up 45 percent of the sample size.

The disparity was similar among ideological lines with 91 percent of liberals saying the next president should make the appointment compared to 27 percent of conservatives and 63 percent of moderates who shared the same view.

Trump has said he intends to nominate a woman to fill the vacant seat during an event at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that the nominee put forth by the president will get a vote on the Senate floor. Republicans appear to have the votes needed for confirmation.

More than one in three respondents (34 percent) said that the Supreme Court is too conservative, the highest percentage recorded in seven polls dating back to 1993. Roughly one in five respondents (22 percent) said the court was too liberal, matching the lows recorded in 2001 and 1993.

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