Kelly Ayotte, Ron Johnson Hurt Reelection Prospects with Supreme Court Stance

| Tom Jensen

Earlier this week Public Policy Polling surveys found that Pat Toomey and Rob Portman were endangering their reelection chances with their opposition to even considering a replacement for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Now you can add Kelly Ayotte and Ron Johnson to that list. New polls in New Hampshire and Wisconsin find strong support for filling the seat this year, and that Ayotte and Johnson’s already dodgy reelection prospects could become even more perilous because of their opposition.

Key findings from the survey include:

-Johnson and Ayotte are already both in trouble this fall because of their weak approval numbers. Johnson has just a 33% approval rating, with 50% of voters disapproving of him. Ayotte isn’t doing much better, with 42% of voters giving her good marks and 48% bad ones. Johnson and Ayotte also have to deal with the overall damaging brand of Senate Republicans as they seek second terms- Mitch McConnell is a remarkably unpopular figure with a 14/58 approval spread in both Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

-Strong majorities of voters in both states think that the vacant seat on the Supreme Court should be filled this year. It’s a 62/35 spread in favor of doing so in Wisconsin, and 59/36 in New Hampshire. One thing that really stands out in both states is what a strong mandate there is from independents for filling the seat- it’s 67/30 in Wisconsin and 60/33 in New Hampshire. Those are the voters who will end up determining whether Johnson and Ayotte get reelected this fall, and they disagree with them on this issue.

-Voters in the two states are particularly concerned about the prospect of the Senate refusing to consider a nominee without even knowing who it is. 78% in New Hampshire and 76% in Wisconsin think the Senate should at least see who gets put forward before making a decision on whether they should be confirmed, and that even includes 66% of Republicans in each state who think President Obama should be able to put someone forward for serious consideration.

-This is an issue that has the potential to hurt Johnson and Ayotte at the polls in races where they’re already struggling. 53% of voters in Wisconsin say they’re less likely to vote for Johnson because of his refusal to consider a nominee, compared to just 26% who say that stance makes them more likely to vote for Johnson. It’s a similar story with Ayotte- 51% are less likely to vote for her because of this, to only 26% who say they’re more likely to vote for her. This issue is particularly damaging for both of them with independents- 57% in New Hampshire and 56% in Wisconsin say obstructionism on this issue makes them less likely to vote to reelect their Republican Senator this fall.

The GOP is already holding on by a string when it comes to their control of the Senate this year, given the number of seats they have to defend in states won by President Obama and the increasing likelihood of the party putting forth an incredibly unpopular Presidential candidate in Donald Trump. What our polling has shown in these 4 key Senate battlegrounds of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin is that voters already dislike their incumbent Senators and their leader in Mitch McConnell. And their unpopular choice to refuse to consider a Supreme Court nominee by President Obama- who won all four of these states in both 2008 and 2012- is just making their prospects for the fall even more dodgy.

Public Policy Polling interviewed 1,000 registered voters in Wisconsin with a margin of error of +/-3.1% and 624 registered voters in New Hampshire with a margin of error of +/-3.9% on February 22nd and 23rd. This research was conducted on behalf of Americans United for Change.

Full results here


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