Poll: Iowa Voters Want a Hearing on Supreme Court

Court standoff intensifies with new efforts targeting senators from both sides

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who remains opposed to considering Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, has seen his favorability rating among Iowa voters drop nearly 20 points in the past two years, a new poll shows. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who remains opposed to considering Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, has seen his favorability rating among Iowa voters drop nearly 20 points in the past two years, a new poll shows. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Posted May 2, 2016 at 3:28pm

Iowa voters would like to see the Senate move forward with considering a Supreme Court nominee, the fourth poll in as many days to show that the public is not inclined to wait for the next president to act.  

The poll , released Monday by the Constitutional Responsibility Project and the League of Conservation Voters, is the latest gambit in a Democratic campaign to secure a hearing and a vote on President Barack Obama’s high court pick , Merrick Garland. Recent polls in Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania found similar results, although it’s not clear how much the issue will factor into election day decisions in November.  

With senators home for a week-long recess, groups on both sides of the Supreme Court standoff are stepping up their campaigns.  

Democratic leaning groups are planning dozens of events targeting vulnerable Republicans, while a conservative group is hitting the airwaves with television ads on Garland’s judicial record aimed at moderate Democrats.  

The Senate has been at an impasse since Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb. 13, creating a vacancy on the high court. Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, swiftly decided they would not consider Obama’s nominee to replace him, arguing that the American people should have a say in the direction of the court through the next election.  

That argument has prompted Democrats to link Republicans to their bombastic front-runner, billionaire Donald Trump.  

“This [Judiciary] committee has turned into a rubber stamp for this Trump-McConnell situation,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, told reporters in a Monday press call.  

Reid singled out Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa by pointing to Monday’s poll, which shows the senator’s favorability rating among Iowa voters has dropped nearly 20 points in the past two years.  

The Hart Research Associates poll does not provide a head-to-head ballot test for Grassley’s re-election bid this fall.  

[Related: Supreme Court Ads to Target GOP Senators]

“All they have to do is look at what’s happening in polling around the country,” Reid said, arguing that Republicans will eventually back down.  

Grassley’s office hit back against the latest poll, noting that the group is backed by former White House officials. Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine said in a statement, “The White House and its paid political activists are trying to manufacture interest where it’s clearly not a defining issue.”  

Though 14 Republicans have met with Garland , the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, only two GOP senators have called for hearings and a vote.  

[Related: Meeting with Merrick]

Despite no movement so far among GOP senators, Democratic-leaning groups intend to keep the pressure on vulnerable Republicans.  

“It’s only the threat of political annihilation that is going to get them to cry ‘uncle’ and change their minds,” said Brad Woodhouse of Americans United for Change, a liberal advocacy group.  

Over the recess, a coalition of groups, including Planned Parenthood, Voto Latino, and the Sierra Club, are planning more than 50 events in nine states: Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Ohio, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Illinois, all states that have Senate Republicans in tight re-election races.  

[Related: The Full Court Press for Merrick Garland]

The groups have also singled out recent polls that highlight voters’ attitudes toward the Supreme Court vacancy in key states where GOP senators are trying to win re-election.  

Iowa : The Hart poll, which surveyed 400 Iowa voters found that 57 percent of respondents preferred that the Senate hold hearings and a vote on Garland, while 35 percent said the next president should fill the vacancy.  

-Pennsylvania:  A Hart poll in GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey’s home state showed 56 percent want the Senate to hold hearings and a vote.  

-Ohio:  Public Policy Polling announced Monday that its recent poll in Sen. Rob Portman’s state showed 65 percent of voters think the Senate should hold hearings on Garland.

Wisconsin: In the state where GOP Sen. Ron Johnson is running a tough re-election race, an End Citizens United PAC poll showed 60 percent of likely voters in the state want the president and the Senate to fill the Supreme Court vacancy now.

And Democrats aren’t the only ones using the recess to make their case.  

The conservative Judicial Crisis Network has dedicated half a million dollars to a new television and digital ad highlighting Garland’s record on the second amendment, abortion and the economy. In the ad, first reported by Politico , the narrator calls Garland a “liberal judge for a liberal president.”  

The ad will air in Iowa as well as states with more moderate Senate Democrats, including West Virginia, Colorado, North Dakota, and New Hampshire. But Democrats are united in calling for a hearing and a vote.  

This week the Judicial Crisis Network will also launch a petition drive, contacting 1.5 million conservative activists, largely in those five states, urging them to sign a petition rejecting Garland.  

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