According to a new poll, almost two out of three likely voters say Supreme Court appointments will be an important factor when deciding whether to vote for President Barack Obama or Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
And it seems, according to the poll, released today, that voter consideration of these issues is more likely to aid Obama than Romney.
The Supreme Court's Impact on the 2012 Presidential Election, conducted on behalf of civil rights groups by Hart Research Associates, found that more than half of the 1,007 people surveyed online in late August, 54 percent, believe that the current Court majority "tends to side with corporations" as opposed to individuals. Thirty-six percent said the Court had struck a balance, and just 10 percent believe the Court favors individuals.
Between the two candidates, 46 percent swing voters polled said they have "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of confidence that Obama would nominate good federal judges and Supreme Court justices if he wins. Only 35 percent of those swing voters said the same about Romney.
The poll, sponsored by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Alliance for Justice Action Campaign, and People for the American Way, is available here.
Guy Molyneux, a partner with Hart Research, said during a conference call with reporters that, "More voters worry Romney would make appointments that have negative traits when compared to Barack Obama."
Those traits have to do with things like supporting justices who would turn back the clock on civil rights and women's rights, and who are "out of touch with modern society," the poll found.
Romney's support of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling that allowed for the creation of "Super PACs" that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates, as well as his anti-abortion stance, are vulnerabilities among swing voters. These two issues caused 63 percent and 62 percent of swing voters, respectively, to say they had less confidence that Romney would appoint "the right kind of people" to the Supreme Court.
At the end of the survey, respondents were asked the same question about their confidence in the candidates to nominate good federal judges and justices. There was a big increase from the beginning of the survey, where 5 percent more voters said they thought Obama would make good selections compared with Romney, to the end of the survey, where 14 percent more voters thought Obama would make the better picks.
In a polarized political environment, which is the case in this election, "to go from a five-point to fourteen-point advantage is really quite substantial," said Molyneux.