Ideological splits are similar. Seventy-three percent of conservatives support the nomination, compared with 59 percent of moderates and 40 percent of liberals. It's noteworthy that liberals divide about evenly on the nomination (40 percent-43 percent) as do Democrats (41 percent-40 percent) -- in neither group does a majority oppose it.
|Original Intent||Current Meaning|
|Age 18 to 34||37||61|
|Age 35 to 54||45||48|
|Court Too Liberal||68||29|
|Court Too Conservative||33||60|
Despite characterizations of the court as more conservative than in years past, just 19 percent of Americans see it as too conservative -- about the same number as see it as too liberal (22 percent). Fifty-five percent instead see it as generally balanced.
As for Roberts, 26 percent say he's a more conservative nominee than they'd have liked, considerably more than the 9 percent who say he's less conservative than they wanted. Again, though, most -- 58 percent -- think he's well-placed on the ideological spectrum.
This poll does find that ideological dissatisfaction with the court is greater among Republicans than among other Americans. Forty-two percent of Republicans call the court too liberal, while fewer Democrats, 28 percent, say it's too conservative.
Naturally, Roberts' support is greatest among people who say the court currently is too liberal -- 83 percent in this group say he should be confirmed. Among those who say it's already too conservative, just about half as many favor his confirmation. And again the middle tilts in his favor: Among those who see the court as generally balanced, 57 percent support his nomination.
Despite these divisions, there's only muted concern that the parties will go over the top in debating the nomination. Thirty-six percent of Americans think the Senate Democrats will be too aggressive in handling it, and slightly fewer, 29 percent, think the Republicans will be too aggressive. In both cases, most think they'll handle it either about right, or not aggressively enough.
Many are paying attention: Fifty-six percent are closely following the news about the Roberts nomination, 20 percent "very" closely. That's a respectable level of public attention (about the same as attention on the CIA leak investigation), albeit not as great as the attention paid to very high-interest events.
Older Americans are much more likely to be following the issue; younger adults, who tend to be less engaged politically, are much less apt to be paying attention (74 percent of those 55 and older are following it closely, compared with 38 percent of those under 35). Attention also is 13 points higher among men than among women, 63 versus 50 percent.
One disappointment about Roberts in some quarters is that a woman wasn't named to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor; about a third of Americans, 34 percent, say they're disappointed Bush didn't pick a woman for the position. (Forty-one percent of women are disappointed, compared with 27 percent of men.)