President Joe Biden’s decision to nominate Jackson for the Supreme Court seat vacated by retiring Justice Stephen Breyer has received overwhelming support in five recent polls.
According to an average of polls conducted by Gallup, Fox, Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, and the Pew Research Center, around 53% of Americans favored her confirmation, while 26% opposed it. This results in a net popularity rating of +27 points.
Ketanji Onyika Brown Jackson would be the most popular nominee to be confirmed since John Roberts in 2005 if her ratings hold up until her expected confirmation. Jackson’s celebrity should only aid her in receiving confirmation.
I developed a statistical model a few years ago to better understand why senators vote the way they do on Supreme Court nominations. Variables such as a nominee’s qualifications, the nominee’s and senator’s views, and so on were factored into the model.
One of the criteria I considered was public opinion regarding a candidate. When all other factors were equal, nominees who were more popular with the general public received more votes.
Clarence Thomas, for example, was widely regarded in 1991 as a staunch conservative who lacked the qualifications of many of the previous choices. Despite this, a Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed Thomas.
It’s possible that a lot of it had to do with his popularity. According to an average of polling conducted before his confirmation, Thomas had a net popularity rating of +33 points among Americans.
Jackson and Roberts could be the first Supreme Court nominees this century to achieve a level of popularity comparable to Thomas’s 30 years ago.
However, one of the major storylines of this century’s Supreme Court selections has been how controversial they have been with the American public. Since 2005, nominees that received a Senate vote or withdrew their nominations have had a net popularity rating of only +10 points in their final polls.
In comparison, nominees from 1986 to 1994 had an average net popularity rating of +26 points in their final polls before the Senate vote or withdrawal of their nomination.