New Polls: Court Packing Very Unpopular, Voters Favor ACB Confirmation Before November Election

Posted: Oct 20, 2020 1:05 PM
New Polls: Court Packing Very Unpopular, Voters Favor ACB Confirmation Before November Election

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool

A fresh New York Times/Siena national poll shows Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by nine points nationally, almost exactly in line with the RealClearPolitics national average. The race remains remarkably stable, which is exactly how the Biden campaign and most of the news media likes it. The president, of course, is doing himself no favors as his team hopes for an eleventh-hour surge. One interesting data point in the survey is strong public opposition to Democrats' threatened court packing scheme, in which a unified Democratic government would add new seats to the US Supreme Court and fill them with leftists. Only a tiny handful of elected Democrats have explicitly ruled out supporting such a radical, institution-altering scheme, with quite a few saying they're "open" to it, or that "everything is on the table."

Biden himself has embarked on a circuitous rhetorical journey, roving from decades of adamant statements against court packing, to clumsy silence on it, to defiant assertions that voters don't deserve to know his position until after the election, to an acknowledgment that he does owe voters a stance after all -- and that he's "not a fan" of the idea -- but he won't expand on that further until after the Barrett process is over. And that his decision won't be dictated by the outcome of ACB's confirmation, but the way it's "handled," whatever that means. As the Democratic nominee avoids this question for at least another week, yet another public poll shows scant support for the extremist power-grab -- especially among the independent voters Democrats are counting on to tip their way in 2020 and deliver them electoral victories:

Overall opposition runs roughly two-to-one, with a 40 point gap among indies. Previous polling on this subject in recent weeks showed less than one-third of the public backing packing, with none measuring support higher than 32 percent, a fraction overwhelmingly driven by the Democratic base. Biden is running as a norm-restoring, institution-protecting moderate. A huge portion of his own coalition -- including moderates and "Never Trump" right-leaners -- would be dead-set against delegitimizing the Court via partisan packing, and he knows it. But two-thirds of his party's voters have caught the fever, so he's in a bit of a corner, especially pre-election. The best outcome from his perspective (assuming he truly does want to govern the way he's campaigned, the more left-wing people around him notwithstanding) might be to get elected president, with a very modest Democratic majority taking over in the Senate. They wouldn't have the votes to go crazy, but they'd have the votes to make some incremental progress on his issues. And that scenario is looking...rather plausible right about now:

This would point to a 50/50 or 51/49 Democratic majority in the upper chamber, in the event of a Biden win. That's basically zero breathing room for Chuck Schumer. I think Ernst is very much still in the game in Iowa, and though he's not where he wants to be, Tillis still has a decent shot in North Carolina. I also wouldn't pull the light-hued races (AK, GA, KS, MI, MT) off the board yet. And as I've said before, the only way to guarantee Democratic overreach won't be possible is to re-elect a Republican Senate, still an attainable goal. Meanwhile, the drive to put Judge Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court got additional boosts this week, with two more polls showing pluralities or majorities favoring her confirmation. Gallup pegged support at 51 percent, a higher pro-confirmation number than the pollster measured for then-nominees Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Elena Kagan. The same NYT/Siena survey mentioned above produced a plurality in support of approving ACB, and perhaps more interestingly, a larger plurality in favor of getting the vote done before the election. Democrats' substantive and process cases against Barrett are failing. To recap:

Contrast that data with Schumer's posturing yesterday:

The stunt failed, of course, but Schumer decided to attempt to shut down the Senate literally on the eve of COVID relief votes (Democrats spent ACB's hearings complaining about inaction on this front, even though they all filibustered the last bill). And to reiterate key facts to rebut Schumer's irresponsible use of "illegitimate," filling this vacancy under the current circumstances is fully constitutional, in alignment with the overwhelming historical norm, and has the public's support. That's the opposite of illegitimate. Indeed, it's Schumer's branch of government that's facing a credibility crisis, not the judiciary:

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to advance the Barrett nomination on Thursday.

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