Monday, May 11, 2009

Geographic Support for Supreme Court Nominees

With Obama's first Supreme Court nomination imminent, Andrew Gelman looks at this new article (pdf) about public support for some recent Supreme Court nominees across the states and makes these maps:



These maps show relative support, so the difference between a really popular nominee, like Sandra Day O'Connor, and a more controversial one, like Bork, don't show up. Still there are some interesting trends:
  • The states where Stephen Breyer, nominated by Clinton in 1994, had his strongest support could best be described as the states Clinton won in 1992.
  • O'Connor and Ginsburg, the two women represented here, both had their lowest support in the South, even though one was a conservative nominated by a Republican and the other was a liberal nominated by a Democrat.
  • George W. Bush's two nominees, Samuel Alito and John Roberts, had their strongest support in the Plains and the heavily Republican Mormon/Mountain triad of Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming; their weakest support was on the West Coast. That appears to be a new pattern.

Gelman's view is that "with 59 Democratic senators and high popularity, Obama could nominate Pee Wee Herman to the Supreme Court and get him confirmed." Probably true, though knowing Obama he'll end up picking a moderate who is just conservative enough to ruffle the feathers of liberals without really making them angry, and to satisfy moderates. And I think it's fair to predict that Rush Limbaugh, and by extension 20,000,000 right wingers, will disapprove of his pick no matter who it is.

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