On February 13, 2016, with almost nine months to go until the end of Barack Obama's second term, Antonin Scalia, one of the judges on the conservative wing of the Supreme Court of Justice, died. Today, less than two months before a new presidential election, Amy Coney Barret, a student of Scalia and one of his most fervent followers, is on the verge of being appointed to the highest court in the country.
Her nomination by President Donald Trump, and the intention of the Republican-controlled Senate, to approve her appointment before November 3, is nevertheless highly controversial around the country. Many Americans believe that the replacement for Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18, should be decided by the winner of the November elections, including a high percentage of Hispanics.
In a new Univision News poll (conducted after Bader Ginsburg's death and prior to the announcement of Coney Barret's nomination), Latino voters were asked about this. The issue was presented in two ways. A group of respondents were asked the question without going into the background: “Do you support or oppose President Trump nominating a replacement for the Supreme Court and allowing the Senate to vote on a new judge before the elections of November?". Another group was asked the same question, but were reminded that when Scalia died, the Senate refused to consider Merrick Garland, nominated by President Obama.
At that time, Mitch McConnell, president of the Senate, considered that it was necessary to wait until the elections for the new president to make the nomination.
In the national sample, the results of the survey are very similar between the two groups: 41% of registered Hispanics support the nomination and 45/46% reject it (13% say they don't care). But at the state level there are interesting changes. In Florida, support for the president's decision goes from 34% to 28% when the background of the Scalia case is mentioned. In Arizona, it goes from 37% to 26%. In Texas, it remains practically the same (down from 51% to 49%).
As many analysts have pointed out, at a time of polarization like the current one, the issue has become highly politicized. Changes in the composition of the Supreme Court bring into play issues that are sensitive for the general population, such as the right to abortion, and, in the case of DACA, of special interest for Hispanics.
In that sense, Univision wanted to know how the voting intention of Hispanics will affect whether Trump and the Republicans seek the appointment of a new judge now. Again, the sample was divided into two parts. Some were asked about abortion and others about DACA.
Both groups were asked whether appointing Judge Ginsburg's replacement before November 3 would increase their chances of voting for Trump or make them more likely to vote for Biden. In both cases, the vast majority of respondents said the Republicans' decision would strengthen their intention to vote for the Democratic candidate.
Of respondents nationwide, 5%% of those who were asked about the risk to the DACA program said they would be more willing to support Biden. In Florida and Texas, the figure was close to 53%; but in Arizona, a swing state, it exceeded the national average with 64%.
In the group that was asked about abortion, the responses were relatively similar. In the national sample, 58% of those surveyed said they felt more motivated to vote for Biden, but in Texas the figure rose from 51% to 63%.
Methodology: Univision News conducted a national survey of Latino registered voters, with an oversample of Latinos in Arizona, Florida, and Texas. The poll was implemented from September 17 – 24, 2020 and a total of 1,962 Latino registered voters completed the survey. The survey contains a margin of error of +/- 2.21. Texas portion (n=401) contains a margin of error of +/- 4.89, Arizona (n=401) 4.89, and Florida (n=500) +/- 4.38. The Latino Texas survey was commissioned through a partnership between Univision News and the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston. Additional questions related to the supreme court were added on September 20, 2020. These questions were incorporated with two sample splits and were asked to n=392 (split A), MOE +/- 4.95 and n=432 (split B), MOE +/- 4.71
Surveys were administered in English or Spanish at the discretion of the respondent and included a mix of cell phone, landline telephone and online self-completed interviews. All respondents are confirmed to be registered to vote and that they consider themselves to be Hispanic or Latina/o. Respondents were randomly selected from the voter file and invitations for interviews were done by live caller or email. Invitations were bilingual at point of contact and allowed respondents to complete the interview in their language of choice. The survey was overseen by Dr. Sergio Garcia-Rios, director of polling for Univision, and administered in collaboration by Latino Decisions and North Star Opinion Research.