But this year, it’s Democrats who are more likely to say the Supreme Court is “very important” to their vote, according to Pew Research.
It’s not hard to see why a Supreme Court vacancy would have been more motivating to Republicans in 2016, but more motivating to Democrats today. After all, it was the Republicans who feared losing a seat and the balance of the court four years ago. This time, it’s the Democrats.
The Republican decision not to hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, to replace Justice Scalia after his death in February 2016 kept the seat vacant all the way through the general election and into the next year.
Voter sentiment favored Judge Garland at the time. And the same was true afterward: A Marquette Law poll in late 2019 found that voters thought the Senate decision not to hold a hearing was the wrong thing to do, by 73 percent to 27 percent.
How voters will feel if President Trump nominates a Supreme Court Justice is potentially a very different matter. For one, it is far closer to the election, and Mr. Trump is less popular than President Obama was at the time.
And it’s possible that the perceived unfairness of denying Judge Garland a hearing may spur fervent opposition to a Republican nominee receiving different treatment, rather than continued support for giving a nominee a hearing in an election year.
Many believe that the fight over Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was publicly accused of sexual assault almost exactly two years ago, helped motivate conservative voters in 2018 and helped spare Republicans an even more decisive defeat in the midterm elections.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/19/upshot/ginsburg-polls-biden-trump-election.html