Friday, March 4, 2016

New polling shows Supreme Court blockade could expand Senate map

A new round of polling from PPP extends their focus on the effects of the Republican blockade of a Supreme Court nominee from President Obama, and it's not pretty for the obstructionists. Their new polling in four swing states suggests that it's not just the blue state Republicans who need to be worried. John McCain in Arizona, Chuck Grassley in Iowa, Roy Blunt in Missouri, and Richard Burr in North Carolina all face re-election this year, and all are facing majorities of voters who want to see the Senate do its job.

In each state, convincing majorities of voters are opposed to letting the Scalia seat sit vacant for more than a year. The four senators in these seats are already starting out with really bad to just "mediocre" ratings and this issue resonates with voters.

All these Senators start out with pretty mediocre approval ratings. John McCain’s approval is a 26/63 spread, Roy Blunt’s is 25/48, and Richard Burr’s is 28/44. Only Chuck Grassley within this group is on positive ground and his 47/44 spread is down considerably from what we usually find for him as he loses crossover support from Democrats because of his intransigence on the Supreme Court issue. Further making life difficult for this quartet is the incredibly damaged brand of Senate Republicans. Mitch McConnell is vastly unpopular in these four states, coming in at 11/63 in Iowa, 16/68 in Arizona, 16/69 in Missouri, and 19/65 in North Carolina. McConnell will be an albatross for all Senate Republicans seeking reelection this fall.

Strong majorities of voters in each of these states want the Supreme Court vacancy to be filled this year. It’s a 56/40 spread in favor of filling the seat in Iowa, 56/41 in Arizona and Missouri, and 55/41 in North Carolina. What’s particularly important in the numbers is the strong support for filling the seat among independents—it’s 60/38 in Missouri, 59/37 in Arizona, 58/38 in Iowa, and 55/38 in North Carolina. Independent voters will be key to determining whether these incumbents sink or swim this fall, and they want the vacancy filled.

PPP finds that voters are particularly upset with the idea that these senators are blockading any nominee, and not at least waiting to find out who Obama puts forward. Super majorities in all four states—69/25 in Arizona, 66/24 in Missouri, 66/25 in North Carolina, and 66/26 in Iowa—want the Senate to wait and see who is nominated before deciding on confirmation. That's Republican voters, too—56/35 in Arizona, 54/38 in North Carolina, 52/37 in Missouri, and 50/39.

This follows PPP's surveys in blue-leaning states. They've already shown that vulnerable Republicans Rob Portman in Ohio and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania could be seriously damaged in this fight, as well as New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte and Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. This is the first indication that the issue could make these pretty safe red seats vulnerable, too.

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