NEW YORK – The latest FOX News poll finds that nearly half of Americans say they would vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. In addition, Alito receives higher marks for the job he did answering questions during the confirmation hearings than the Senate Judiciary Committee receives for how it did asking questions.
The new poll finds that 47 percent of Americans would vote to confirm Alito to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, up from 45 percent two weeks ago when the confirmation hearings were just getting underway. Opposition to the nominee is 32 percent, with one in five unsure (21 percent).
Similar results are seen on how Alito did during the confirmation hearings. Almost half of voters give Alito a thumbs-up for how he did answering questions (19 percent excellent and 27 percent good), which is slightly lower than the positive ratings Chief Justice John Roberts received for the job he did (25 percent excellent and 29 percent good).
Those asking the questions get somewhat lower marks than the nominee: less than a third of Americans think the Senate Judiciary Committee did an excellent (6 percent) or good job (24 percent) questioning Alito, and half think the committee did a fair (26 percent) or poor job (20 percent).
About equal numbers of voters think the questioning by Senate Democrats was too tough (38 percent) as think the questioning by Senate Republicans was too easy (37 percent).
In a party-line vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Alito's nomination out of committee on Tuesday. Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, January 24-25. A vote on Alito by the full Senate is expected by next week, and most court observers think it is likely he will be confirmed.
"Like most of American politics, Alito's nomination is viewed through a partisan lens," says Chris Anderson, Opinion Dynamics senior researcher. "Republicans think the questions during the confirmation hearings were too tough, Democrats think they were too easy. Republicans think he should be confirmed, Democrats don't."
While more Americans think the Supreme Court is typically too liberal (28 percent) in its decisions than think it is too conservative (17 percent), a 42 percent plurality thinks the court is generally "about right" in its rulings.
These results are mostly unchanged from when the question was last asked over two years ago: 30 percent said decisions by the high court were generally "too liberal," 20 percent "too conservative" and 37 percent "about right" (July 2003).
Finally, the Supreme Court has the best job rating of the three branches of government. Half of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing, 30 percent disapprove and 20 percent are unsure.
In comparison, the poll finds that 41 percent approve and 51 percent disapprove of President George W. Bush's overall job performance, and 34 percent approve and 51 percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing.