Public Policy Polling finds that the strategy of total obstruction on filling the Supreme Court vacancy may hurt a number of Republican incumbent senators in tight races in blue or purple states:
Earlier this week Public Policy Polling surveys found that Pat Toomey and Rob Portman were endangering their reelection chances with their opposition to even considering a replacement for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Now you can add Kelly Ayotte and Ron Johnson to that list. New polls in New Hampshire and Wisconsin find strong support for filling the seat this year, and that Ayotte and Johnson’s already dodgy reelection prospects could become even more perilous because of their opposition.
With the death of Antonin Scalia, President Barack Obama will fulfill his constitutional duty and nominate a replacement, but Republicans announced yesterday that they will refuse to consider any nominee, regardless of qualifications. GOP leaders stated that they would refuse to hold hearings or even meet the nominee.
GOP leaders are tossing out some half-baked arguments about principle but obviously this is just a naked power grab. As Donald Trump admitted with admirable candor at a GOP debate, if he was president he would seek to nominate someone, but since Obama is president, the name of the game is “delay, delay, delay.”
Of course, Democrats might also seek to avoid approving a GOP nominee in the final year of a presidency if the shoe was on the other foot. What makes the optics of the Republican obstruction particularly ugly is their flat refusal to even consider a nominee.
Here’s more from the Public Policy Polling poll:
-Strong majorities of voters in both states think that the vacant seat on the Supreme Court should be filled this year. It’s a 62/35 spread in favor of doing so in Wisconsin, and 59/36 in New Hampshire. One thing that really stands out in both states is what a strong mandate there is from independents for filling the seat- it’s 67/30 in Wisconsin and 60/33 in New Hampshire. Those are the voters who will end up determining whether Johnson and Ayotte get reelected this fall, and they disagree with them on this issue.
-Voters in the two states are particularly concerned about the prospect of the Senate refusing to consider a nominee without even knowing who it is. 78% in New Hampshire and 76% in Wisconsin think the Senate should at least see who gets put forward before making a decision on whether they should be confirmed, and that even includes 66% of Republicans in each state who think President Obama should be able to put someone forward for serious consideration.
-This is an issue that has the potential to hurt Johnson and Ayotte at the polls in races where they’re already struggling. 53% of voters in Wisconsin say they’re less likely to vote for Johnson because of his refusal to consider a nominee, compared to just 26% who say that stance makes them more likely to vote for Johnson. It’s a similar story with Ayotte- 51% are less likely to vote for her because of this, to only 26% who say they’re more likely to vote for her. This issue is particularly damaging for both of them with independents- 57% in New Hampshire and 56% in Wisconsin say obstructionism on this issue makes them less likely to vote to reelect their Republican Senator this fall.