May 29, 2009 - U.S. Voters Approve 2-1 Of Obama's Sotomayor Pick, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Legal Skill More Important Than Diversity, Most Say

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American voters approve 54 - 24 percent, with 22 percent undecided, of President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

The Sotomayor nomination wins support from Democrats 81 - 3 percent and independent voters 50 - 26 percent, while Republicans oppose it 46 - 26 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey finds. Men approve of the nomination 48 - 31 percent while women approve 59 - 18 percent.

The fact that Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice is a "very important factor" in President Obama's decision to nominate her, 34 percent of American voters say, with 36 percent calling it "somewhat important." A total of 26 percent call it "not too important" or "not important at all."

A nominee's legal qualifications are more important than achieving diversity on the Supreme Court, American voters say 60 - 8 percent, while 29 percent say both factors are equally important.

U.S. Senators should consider only Judge Sotomayor's legal qualifications in deciding whether to approve her nomination, 47 percent of voters say, while 43 percent say Senators should consider her views on issues such as abortion and affirmative action.

"She's not an American Idol yet, but Judge Sonia Sotomayor is rising quickly on the recognition scale of American voters. Only about one-fifth of voters are undecided about her and over 50 percent approve of her nomination, twice the number who disapprove," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The difference of opinion reflects the political divide in the nation."

"Although Americans overwhelmingly think diversity on the Supreme Court isn't nearly as important as judicial qualifications, seven in 10 think that Judge Sotomayor's Hispanic heritage played a big role in President Obama's decision to nominate her," Brown added.

Sotomayor is more liberal than they would like, 30 percent of voters say, with 5 percent who say she is not liberal enough and 42 percent who say she is "about right."

"Voters are split about whether senators debating Sotomayor's confirmation should consider her views on issues. A plurality, 42 percent, think her views are about right while 30 percent think she's more liberal than they would like and 5 percent think she's not liberal enough," Brown said.

From May 26 - 28, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,438 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed - http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, or call (203) 582-5201.

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the way the United States Supreme Court is handling its job?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Approve              62%    58%    66%    61%    63%    61%
Disapprove           22     28     18     23     25     20
DK/NA                16     14     16     16     12     19
 
 
6. Do you approve or disapprove of President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Approve              54%    26%    81%    50%    48%    59%
Disapprove           24     46      3     26     31     18
DK/NA                22     28     16     23     22     23
 
 
7. Would you say that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is more liberal than you would like, not liberal enough, or about right?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
More liberal         30%    56%     6%    34%    37%    25%
Not liberal enough    5      4      7      5      5      5
About right          42     20     67     35     37     47
DK/NA                23     20     20     27     21     24
 
 
8. Should Senators support or oppose Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court based only on whether she is qualified to be a justice, or should they also consider her views on controversial issues like abortion and affirmative action?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Only qualifications  47%    33%    56%    47%    50%    44%
Consider views       43     58     32     45     41     45
DK/NA                10      9     12      8     10     11
 
 
9. As you may know, Sonia Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. Do you think this was a very important factor in President Obama's choice of her, somewhat important, not too important, or not important at all?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Very important       34     40     27     37     38     31
Somewhat important   36     28     43     37     33     39
Not too important     9      9     11      7     10      8
Not important        17     19     16     16     17     18
DK/NA                 3      3      3      2      2      4
 
 
10. Do you think making the Supreme Court look like the rest of the nation in terms of race, religion, ethnicity, and gender is more important than a justice's legal qualifications for the job, less important or about as important?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
More important        8%     5%    10%     8%     8%     7%
Less important       60     76     43     65     65     56
About as important   29     17     44     23     24     33
DK/NA                 3      2      4      3      3      4