Poll: Voters Want Trump's Supreme Court Pick to Limit Corporate Money in Politics, Not Abortion

Abortion may be dominating the headlines, but voters thinking about Trump’s potential Supreme Court pick care more about Citizens United, a new Daily Beast/Ipsos poll finds.


Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

The future of abortion rights in America does not appear to be the most galvanizing issue for voters when it comes to who President Donald Trump will select as his next Supreme Court nominee. That honor, according to a new Daily Beast/Ipsos poll, goes to the immense concerns many voters have about the role money plays in U.S. politics.

By overwhelming majorities, voters in each political party said they opposed the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision to allow businesses and corporations to spend without limit on political campaigns. In all, 64 percent of respondents said they wanted Trump to pick a Supreme Court nominee who would “limit the amount of money corporations and unions can spend on political campaigns.” That included 70 percent of Democrats and a remarkable 67 percent of Republicans alongside 60 percent of independents. Just 24 percent of all respondents said they did not want a Supreme Court nominee to curb that right.

Questions surrounding the future of abortion rights under the future court drew similar overall numbers but with a far greater partisan divide.

According to the Daily Beast/Ipsos poll, 63 percent of voters said they did not want Trump to nominate someone who would make abortion illegal, while 29 percent said they did want that type of nominee. Those margins were fueled by Democrats and independents who overwhelmingly said they wanted the Supreme Court to uphold the landmark case Roe v. Wade. Eighty percent of Democrats opposed Trump nominating a judge who would make abortion illegal and 66 percent of independents said the same. For Republican respondents, 53 percent said they would like the next justice to vote to make abortion illegal, while 41 percent said they would not.

Collectively, the findings suggest that the electorate is eager for a moderate, if not liberal-minded, jurist to be Trump’s Supreme Court pick—something that seems unlikely to happen given the names most often floated as nominees. On the major flashpoint issues that have come before the court in recent memory, respondents often aligned themselves with a more progressive outcome.

  • 61 percent said they did not want Trump to nominate someone who would overturn the court’s gay marriage ruling (compared to 29 percent who favored that outcome)
  • 58 percent said they did not want the president to nominate someone who would allow businesses to refuse services to clients on grounds that it violated their religious beliefs (compared to 32 percent who did)
  • 45 percent said they wanted the president to nominate someone who would give states the right to impose restrictions on gun ownership (compared to 43 percent who said they didn’t)

The one area where conservative jurisprudence seemed to prevail was on the matter of allowing companies the right to deny employees certain health coverage on religious grounds. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they wanted Trump to nominate someone who would overturn that right, compared to 47 percent who said they didn’t.

Taken as a whole, the numbers provide grist for Democrats to make an effort to derail a Trump Supreme Court pick, should that nominee be overly conservative in judicial philosophy.

But the campaign won’t be easy. The vacancy created by the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was listed as only the fourth most important issue for voters’ decision-making in the upcoming midterm elections—trailing health care, gun policy, and voting rights.

Moreover, both parties appear to be similarly motivated on the matter, with conservatives as excited by Kennedy’s retirement as liberals are scared. Asked to rank how important the new court nominee would be on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important, Democrats offered a collective ranking of 8.2 while Republicans settled at 8.1.

The Ipsos poll was conducted from June 29 through July 2, 2018. The results were drawn from a sample of roughly 1,003 adults age 18 and older. The sample includes 345 Democrats, 325 Republicans, and 226 independents.