Majority of Americans Want the Senate to Confirm Alito


Source: Progress for America (
For Immediate Release: January 10, 2006  

Jan. 10, 2006 — - Six in 10 Americans plan to tune in to the Senate confirmation hearings that start today for Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito, and his supporters continue to outnumber his opponents by about a 2-1 ratio.

Tuning In
Fifty-three percent of Americans want the Senate to confirm Alito to the Supreme Court, 27 percent oppose his confirmation, and 20 percent are undecided. Support for Alito has not changed substantially from when his nomination was first announced in late October; in terms of public sentiment, he's in about the same position as John Roberts was at the opening of his hearings to become chief justice.

Interest in the Alito hearings is also in line with early interest in the Roberts' nomination: Sixty percent plan to pay close attention to the Senate proceedings, with about one in five saying they'll be following them "very closely." Among the reasons people are likely to tune in is to hear what, if anything, Alito may say about abortion-rights cases, particularly the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Asked how they think Alito will handle abortion cases if he's confirmed, 38 percent say they think he'll leave Roe as is, a quarter believes he'll vote for greater restrictions, and 18 percent say he'll likely vote to overturn Roe entirely. The remaining 18 percent say they don't know how he'll vote.

And many seem to project their own attitudes onto Alito: Fifty-eight percent say the way they expect him to vote on Roe is the same way they'd want him to vote.

Expectations for Alito's handling of abortion cases link directly to support for his confirmation: About two-thirds of those who think he'll vote to either limit Roe or leave it intact support him, whereas a majority of those who think he'll vote to overturn the decision oppose his nomination. Previous polling indicates majority support for Roe, but also substantial support for the court's making it harder for women to get abortions -- 42 percent in the last month's ABC/Post poll.

Support for Alito continues to vary widely by partisanship: Seventy-six percent of Republicans back him, compared with 47 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats.

There's also now a modest gender gap, although both men and women are more likely to support than oppose Alito's confirmation: Fifty-eight percent of men and 49 percent of women support him. Part of the reason for the gap: In this poll, women are 10 points more likely than men to be Democrats.

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 5-8, 2006, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Fieldwork by TNS of Horsham, Pa. Full results follow (*= less than 0.5 percent).