America Likes Sotomayor, Especially Democrats and Women

Her initial approval ratings are Roberts-like, much better than Alito and Miers.

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Jack Farrell may argue that Sonia Sotomayor is Sam Alito on the left ("a studious Catholic baby boomer who enlisted in the meritocracy, graduated from prestigious Ivy League schools [Princeton, Yale Law], and served as a federal judge, showing considerable competence, and zero signs of legal artistry or intellectual genius")—and he may be right—but she beats him in at least one regard: initial polling numbers. According to Gallup, 47 percent of Americans rate Sotomayor as an excellent or good choice, while only 33 percent regard her as "only fair" or "poor." (A separate Rasmussen Poll puts the figure at 49-36, with 45 percent favoring her confirmation, 25 percent opposing and 26 percent unsure.) Her net 14 point positive balance in Gallup is only exceeded among this decade's Supreme Court nominees, according to Gallup, by John Roberts (51-34). Alito (43-39) and the unforgettable Harriet Miers (44-41) each received much more mixed initial reactions.

What does this tell us about how Sotomayor would be as a Supreme Court justice? Nothing at all. But it does indicate that the Obama White House handled her roll-out pretty well.

Two other interesting notes from Gallup: Independents are much closer on Sotomayor—favoring her 40-36. The 40 percent positive rating among independents is right in line with the initial reactions to Roberts (40 percent) and Miers (41 percent). Alito only managed 35 percent initial approval.

And women (54 percent approve) are much more supportive of Sotomayor than are men (42 percent approve). The two genders were pretty evenly split on John Roberts (50 percent approval from women, 51 percent from men) and Harriet Miers (44-43), but Sam Alito only got 39 percent approval from women and 47 percent approval from men.

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