Elena Kagan's Supreme Court Nomination is Stalling

A new poll shows growing discomfort with the pick.

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By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

By now the White House must realize that its selection of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be the next associate justice of the United States Supreme Court could be going better. Kagan, the former dean of the prestigious Harvard Law School, has spent the past week introducing herself to members of the U.S. Senate, but has yet to see the American people embrace her nomination--which may be an early indication that her hopes for confirmation may be headed to the rocks.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen released a new survey Tuesday showing the nation splits evenly on the issue of whether or not she should be allowed to join the nation’s highest court even though a vast majority, 83 percent, assume she will be. Of the 1,000 likely U.S. voters Rasmussen surveyed, 39 percent said they believe Kagan should be confirmed and 39 percent said they believed she should not be. The remaining 22 percent said they were still undecided.

Rasmussen found the number of people who view Kagan unfavorably has “risen slightly over the past week,” with 44 percent now admitting to a negative view of the nominee, an increase of five points in just one week. The survey also found that a near majority of respondents think Kagan, despite her rather thin academic and professional legal record, is “ideologically liberal” versus 32 percent who see her as a political moderate and 3 percent who view her as “conservative.” Most strikingly, 42 percent of voters who define themselves as political independents oppose her confirmation, an increase of eight points over the last week.

As a practical matter, this means that both her opponents and her supporters still have the opportunity to define her in the minds of the public but, according to this newest survey, those opposed to her confirmation appear to be inching ahead.

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