The vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg has completely divided Americans and made intense polarization ahead of the 2020 election even more severe.
- The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opened up a vacancy on the Supreme Court that President Trump said he will fill as quickly as possible.
- Insider conducted a national survey with 1,017 respondents following the announcement Friday that Ginsburg had died, asking the course of action Americans preferred for filling her seat.
- A plurality of respondents — 45% of registered voters — said that the president elected in November should fill the seat.
- Another 13% said the seat should not be filled until after the election.
- Only 28% of registered voter respondents said Trump should fill the vacancy before the election.
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A new survey conducted by Insider on SurveyMonkey Audience found that the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has escalated the stakes of the 2020 election, and that most respondents disagree with President Trump's plan to fill the seat as soon as possible.
The majority of respondents to the survey said the seat should not be filled until after the election, and a plurality said the seat should be filled by the president elected on November 3.
The poll was of 1,017 United States adults, of whom 850 said they are registered to vote and 88%, or 881 respondents, who said they are likely to do so.
Respondents were asked, "When should the United States Senate vote to confirm a new Justice to the Supreme Court to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg?" Among the registered voters:
- 45% said, "Whoever wins the election should appoint the next Justice and the Senate should not vote until the election is decided."
- 28% said, "As soon as possible, before the 2020 election."
- 13% said, "After the 2020 election but before the next inauguration, regardless if President Trump wins or loses."
- 14% said, "I don't know."
Among all respondents, 27% said a replacement should be voted upon before the election, 14% said the Trump nominee should get a vote after the election, 42% said that the winner of the 2020 election should appoint the next Justice, and 17% did not know.
Undecided voters are, lo and behold, even more uncertain about the best course of action. Among voters who indicated they were registered to vote and had not yet made a decision between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, or who said they intended to vote for a third party:
- 30% of undecideds said the winner in 2020 should appoint the Justice.
- 32% of undecideds said before the election.
- 11% of undecideds said Trump's pick should get a vote after the election.
- 27% of undecideds said they did not know.
The opening significantly increases the stakes of the 2020 election, but it's unclear how or if it will impact the state of the race. Could this bring conservative-leaning undecided voters who don't care for Trump to reject Biden? Or does it galvanize Democrats?
Based on the survey, it appears the impact on the race will be a significant escalation with only a fraction of respondents saying they're less certain about their decision now.
After respondents had indicated who they intended to support — definitely Trump, probably Trump, not yet decided, probably Biden, definitely Biden, a third party or none of the above — respondents were asked, "Does the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the vacant seat on the Court affect how you plan to vote this November?" Among registered voters:
- 47% said it makes them more certain.
- 42% said it does not change their intentions.
- 5% said it makes them less certain.
- 6% said they did not know.
The 40 respondents who said they're less certain in their current choice is seriously approaching the margin of error, though among those respondents, 15 indicated current support for Biden, nine now backed Trump, 11 were undecided, and 5 were going third party.
Based on this survey, there's not enough evidence to claim that one candidate or another is seriously imperiled based on the opening of the seat, rather that current backers have seen their preferences intensify.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. This survey had a total 1,017 respondents, a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points with a 95% confidence level. Poll conducted September 18-19, 2020.