Remember Merrick Garland?
Last March, when President Obama nominated Judge Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left behind by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court looked dead on arrival. News of Scalia’s death had barely broken when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that he would not allow anyone nominated by President Obama to be confirmed. Meanwhile, polls taken before the nomination suggested that voters would break down along party lines if Senate Republicans took the extraordinary step of refusing to even consider a nominee.
New polling released by the Center for American Progress on Monday, however, indicates that the public has turned hard against the GOP’s plan to simply ignore Garland’s nomination. Among other things, the poll finds that registered voters overwhelmingly support giving Garland a hearing and a confirmation vote:
Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are all states that are likely to have competitive Senate races this November, so the polling data also suggests that Republicans could pay a price for their unpopular stance.
So that’s the good news for Judge Garland and his supporters. The bad news is that CAP’s polling also suggests that few voters are engaged enough with this issue to even know who Garland is. Only 43 percent of registered voters recognized Garland’s name when they were not reminded that he is Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
Notably, the CAP poll was conducted in mid-to-late April, before Donald Trump became the last man standing in the Republican Party’s presidential nominating process. There are some early signs that the Senate GOP’s strategy of leaving Scalia’s seat open until after the next president is seated will wear even thinner now that Republicans are effectively pushing to replace Obama’s nominee with Trump’s.
The morning after Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee, the influential conservative blog RedState advised Senate Republicans to “confirm Merrick Garland before it is too late” — noting that Garland is relatively advanced in age and is more moderate than a possible nominee under a President Hillary Clinton.
Disclosure: ThinkProgress is an editorially independent project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, CAP’s partner organization.