Data Opinion

Amy Coney Barrett is the most unpopular Supreme Court nominee in modern history

By Madison Ulczak

To me and to many Americans, Donald Trump’s late-term appointment to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, is the antithesis of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A cultural icon, champion of women’s rights and of equality for LGBTQ Americans, there is no Supreme Court justice that has achieved the level of cultural status that RBG did. It could be that the late supreme court justice was an alum of my alma mater, or that I could count on her to fight for me and my rights as a woman. Regardless of the reason, I felt a connection (like I’m sure so many others did) to RBG. I was confident and comforted in having someone who would have my back and be in my corner sitting in the highest court in the land. Despite her age and knowing she had battled stints with cancer, her passing rocked me.

And now, President Trump’s nomination to fill the vacant seat with Judge Amy Coney Barrett threatens to dismantle much of the progress that RBG spent her life advancing.

In new polling, we set out to understand how voters are reacting to Barrett’s nomination. We find that Barrett is the most unpopular Supreme Court nominee since Robert Bork. Barrett’s unpopularity is even stronger than opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination in 2018.

To give a bit of history, Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1987 but ultimately rejected by the Senate due, in part, to his open opposition to civil rights and anti-choice views.

At the time of Bork’s nomination, Senator Ted Kennedy took to the Senate floor with a strong condemnation of him, declaring:

“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.”

Sound familiar?

It should, as racism in America and a woman’s right to make decisions about her body still stand as central issues in our country’s political debates. It seems as 2020 has propelled us back to 1987 as both these topics, and more, have also risen during Barrett’s senate hearing, as the Judge has been described as “unashamedly Pro-Life” and openly against gay marriage.

Given her stance on these issues, we wanted to better understand perceptions of Barrett among voters whose personal lives may be directly impacted by her appointment to the Supreme Court. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Barrett’s favorability ratings plummet even further when you look at women (-12) and LGBTQ Americans (-14). Individuals who likely realize that Barrett’s position on reproductive rights and marriage equality stand in direct opposition of the views – and life work of the Champion they once had in their corner.

But despite the fact that a plurality of Americans oppose Barrett, Republicans are relentlessly forcing her nomination to go through the Senate before the election. With the election just over two weeks away, if confirmed, Barrett’s appointment would be, by far, the closest a Supreme Court appointment has ever happened to an election. This also comes at a time when just four years ago, in March of 2016, Republicans refused to vote on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. The Republican led Senate argued that the American people should have a say, and as it was Obama’s last term in office, the next president should make the nomination.

The argument to not fill a vacancy during an election year that the Republicans made four years ago seems to have disappeared, though. Regardless that 17 million Americans have already voted, and many for new leadership, the sentiment that the “American people should have a say” seems entirely lost. Forcing Barrett’s unpopular nomination, at a time of intense political divisiveness just weeks ahead of the election Republicans threaten to delegitimize the sanctity of the Supreme Court. An action that will result in Democrats having to take steps – should they win the Presidency and control in the Senate – to restore a non-partisan system.

Data Media Politics

New Whitman Insight Strategies Poll Finds Double-Digit Biden Lead Nationally

Ahead of a series of dueling town halls tonight – replacing what was supposed to be the second presidential debate – a new Whitman Insight Strategies poll finds former Vice President Joe Biden holds a double-digit lead against Donald Trump among likely voters nationally.

This poll was conducted between October 8th and 13th.

With less than three weeks left until Election Day, Trump faces a significant deficiency among the very voters who propelled him to an Electoral College victory against Hillary Clinton four years ago: Independents, seniors, college educated white voters, and suburban white women.

As of today, more than 17 million Americans have already voted, either by mail or early in-person. With Trump supporters abiding by their candidate’s conspiracies about the effectiveness of voting early, Biden is banking a substantial lead among these early voters. Among the 11% of voters in our poll who say they have already voted, Biden leads by 54-points. He also holds substantial leads among voters who plan to vote by mail or early in-person in the coming days.

For voters, this election is turning into a referendum on honesty and integrity. In this time of national crisis, voters are looking for a leader who they can trust to navigate American through its challenges.

In our poll, we asked voters what words come to mind when they think of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The top word associated with Donald Trump is LIAR. The top word associated with Joe Biden is HONEST.

This is a vastly different election environment than 2016, when voters generally had negative perceptions of both major party candidates and neither Clinton nor Trump were especially well trusted.

This year, voters find the incumbent president ineffective and think he has not been truthful to the American people about a virus that has claimed more than 215,000 American lives under his watch.

With just 19 days until the election, Trump will need to prove voters’ lying eyes wrong.

Data Politics

New Whitman Insight Strategies Poll Finds Biden Lead in ‘Tipping Point’ Pennsylvania

In the wake of last week’s vice presidential debate and Donald Trump’s coronavirus hospitalization, a new Whitman Insight Strategies poll finds former Vice President Joe Biden holds a 5-point lead among likely voters in Pennsylvania.

This poll was conducted between October 5th and 9th.

As the Washington Post wrote this weekend Pennsylvania is the ‘tipping point’ state in this election, the state that will secure the presidency for Biden or Trump. As such, both candidates are increasingly focused on the pivotal role that Pennsylvania will play in deciding the outcome of the presidential race.

Our full findings present a troubling picture for Donald Trump. Both candidates have consolidated their base, with Trump winning 86% of Republicans and Biden winning 89% of Democrats. But among non-affiliated voters, Biden holds a commanding 13-point lead. Trump won these same voters by a 7-point margin against Hillary Clinton four years ago.

Our poll also finds a historically massive voting mode difference exists in Pennsylvania. Biden is winning among voters who plan to vote early or by mail by a 52-point margin. Among voters who plan to vote in-person on Election Day, Trump is winning by an equally historic 31-point margin.

This historic gap has real implications for how votes will be counted, and what results on election night will look like (some states count early voters first, while other states count early voters after completed Election Day counts).

Finally, we measured the impact that Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis has on voter preference and find that most voters don’t think it will affect their candidate choice. A full 58% of likely voters say his diagnosis will make no difference in their support. But among those who do say it will affect their vote, more think it will make them less likely to support Trump in his reelection.

With just 22 days until the election and voters already heading to the polls in Pennsylvania, time is running out for the Trump campaign to course correct and secure a win in this critical tipping point state.

podcast Politics

Society Behind The Stat Ep. 05 – Bernard Whitman & Matt McDermott on The 2020 Conventions & State of The Race

Adam & Scott are back from a midsummer hiatus to talk about the 2020 Presidential Election.

This time they’ve gone in-house for guests, speaking with Democratic Pollsters & Strategists (not to mention colleagues @ WINS) Bernard Whitman and Matt McDermott.

In this episode the panel discusses the current state of the 2020 race, what the DNC and RNC each set out to accomplish, what Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s chances each come down to, and expectations for what a Trump re-election or Joe Biden victory look like for America, respectively.


WINS CSIP Insights (Waves 1-2) Slideshare

Uploaded by popular demand, here are some key insights from our first few waves of polling this summer.

WINS COVID-19 Societal Impact Project from Adam Math
Blog Post Politics Public Health

The Sweden Experiment Failed

It turns out that refusing to lock down during a deadly pandemic does not protect your economy, it just kills more of your people.

Media Politics

Conventions, VEEPStakes, and The State of the 2020 Race

WINS VP Matt McDermott talks with Dr. Christina Greer and Lincoln Mitchell on MNN’s The Election Show this week.

Blog Post

Mail-In Mayhem

Today in the NYT:

Now, nearly six weeks later, two closely watched congressional races remain undecided, and major delays in counting a deluge of 400,000 mail-in ballots and other problems are being cited as examples of the challenges facing the nation as it looks toward conducting the November general election during the pandemic.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other officials are trading blame for the botched counting in the city, and the Postal Service is coming under criticism over whether it is equipped to handle the sharp increase in absentee ballots.

While Americans support mail-in voting during the pandemic, and many Governors have moved to make doing so easier, 17 states (including New York) have never before conducted no-excuse mail-in absentee voting for a presidential election.

The disaster in New York should be a clear warning sign that we need to better anticipate problems, better deploy strategies, and then actually have the competence to execute when it comes to holding elections during the COVID-19 era.

Blog Post

MLB’s COVID Outbreaks Cast Higher Doubt Over School Reopenings

The long-awaited return of the “core four” American sports led off with Major League Baseball on July 23rd. In the 10 days since, we’ve seen Trump vs. Fauci first-pitch drama make its way to the diamond. More disconcerting, we’ve also seen COVID outbreaks sideline 6 of the league’s 30 teams this past weekend, and a warning that the MLB season could be shut down without improvement in containing COVID-19.

So far, the NBA and NHL “bubble” experiments have fared better, and questions loom for the NFL’s kickoff in September. But outside of sports — school officials, business owners, and everyday Americans are still pondering if and how to “safely” resume their normal lives. If pro sports teams and their robust testing and safety protocols couldn’t avoid an outbreak, how can everybody else?

On the topic of schools, Adrienne LeFrance of The Atlantic didn’t mince words this weekend when she wrote “This Push to Open Schools Is Guaranteed to Fail.” And if you look at the estimated risk schools will take on by re-opening, can we really expect any other outcome for our country?

What it comes down to is Leadership and the qualities that people are looking for in leaders right now. Our own CSIP findings point to Looking after People and Workers, Being Careful, Communicating, and a Roadmap for What’s Next as top qualities that Americans want leaders to be focusing on and exhibiting.

However, if you look at what’s happened so far in MLB and the jump ball we’re seeing in the debate around Schools, we’re not seeing enough effective leadership — not by a long shot. Last week the NYC Public Schools, the largest school district in the country, submitted a “plan” that was largely insufficent. Gov. Cuomo’s team went on to say “it looks like an outline, not a plan” and noted it was just 30 pages, while smaller school districts submitted much lengthier plans.

The virus isn’t going to magically disappear in time for September. We need to contain it, and the strategy to get there should come from the top. Last week the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released an eleven-point plan for A Way Forward on COVID-19. Whether or not this plan is the answer or will even be adopted is to be determined, but at least it’s a plan.


Society Behind The Stat Ep. 04 – Dr. Briana Mathews & Dr. Steve Mathews on Mental Health & Resilience

In Episode 04 of Society Behind The Stat, Scott & Adam talk about the dangers of the looming mental health crisis that COVID-19 will leave in its wake, and also about resilience in the face of pandemic.

Their guests for this episode are Dr. Briana Mathews & Dr. Steve Mathews, a married couple and two healthcare professionals who have been on the front lines in both the fight against the novel coronavirus here in NYC, and the fight against the inevitable mental health consequences of pandemic.