Public Opinion and Senate Confirmation of Supreme Court Nominees
We study the relationship between state-level public opinion and the roll call votes of
senators on Supreme Court nominees. Applying recent advances in multilevel modeling, we use national polls on nine recent Supreme Court nominees to produce state-of-the-art estimates of public support for the confirmation of each nominee in all 50 states. We show that greater public support strongly increases the probability that a senator will vote to approve a nominee, even after controlling for standard predictors of roll call voting. We also find that the impact of opinion varies with context: it has a greater effect on opposition party senators, on ideologically opposed senators, and for generally weak nominees. These results establish a systematic and powerful link between constituency opinion and voting on Supreme Court nominees.