Poll: Americans 'Undecided' On Alito

Samuel A. Alito as he meets with Senator John Cornyn, (R-TX) November 3, 2005 at the Capitol building in Washington, DC. Alito continues his visit with Senators as he awaits a confirmation hearing to that will decide if he becomes a Supreme Court justice. Getty Images/Joe Raedle

As congressional hearings begin for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, a CBS News poll reveals that most Americans have yet to form an opinion of Alito and most don't know whether he should be confirmed.

Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said they are "undecided" or "haven't heard enough" to form an opinion about Alito, and 70 percent said they "can't say" whether Alito should be confirmed by the Senate.

Despite a lack of knowledge on Alito, many of those surveyed said they expect his Senate confirmation hearings to be highly partisan. Forty-nine percent of those polled said "No" when asked whether they thought Democrats and Republicans would work together to conduct Alito's confirmation hearings.

Read the data and analysis from new CBS News polls on these topics:

Judge Alito | Congress/Ethics | Cars | Bush/Wiretapping/Iraq


The majority of the public would like to see the Senate explore Alito's views on issues that might confront the court, even though 69 percent said they feel personal views should have no place in any rulings the Supreme Court makes. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed said personal views do have a place in Supreme Court rulings.

When it comes to opinions about the Supreme Court, Americans express more confidence than they have in five years.

OPINION OF SAMUEL ALITO
Favorable
16 percent
Unfavorable
7 percent
Undecided/haven't heard enough
77 percent

SHOULD ALITO BE CONFIRMED BY THE SENATE?
Yes
17 percent
No
9 percent
Can't say
70 percent

WILL REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS WORK TOGETHER
TO CONDUCT HEARINGS?

Yes
40 percent
No
47 percent

SHOULD JUSTICE'S PERSONAL VIEWS ENTER INTO DECISIONS?
Yes
25 percent
No
69 percent

CONFIDENCE IN SUPREME COURT
Now
Great deal
22 percent
Quite a lot
27 percent
Some
37 percent
Very little
13 percent

In July of 2005, 14 percent said they had a "great deal" of confidence in the Supreme Court, and 22 percent said they had "quite a lot."


Other CBS News poll findings:

  • In the wake of news of ethics problems for some members of Congress and a guilty plea and promise to testify in a political corruption investigation by a top Washington lobbyist, Congress' job approval rating has sunk to its lowest level since 1996. But the public's concern is bipartisan: Most Americans think both Republicans and Democrats will be implicated in the political corruption investigation involving that lobbyist. Read the poll (.pdf).

  • Americans now reject the expansive view of presidential power to fight terrorism they appeared to embrace after 9/11. But they divide when it comes to judging the current controversy over President Bush's authorization of wiretaps without court warrants (49% approve of his doing so and 48% don't). Although there have been some improvements in opinion about the war in Iraq in the wake of the December election there, and a positive feeling about the economy, the President's approval rating remains where it was one month ago. Read the poll (.pdf).

  • American-made cars have now decisively lost the auto race to Japan — at least when it comes to American perceptions about cars. The gap between views of the two has grown enormous today: just less than half of Americans think that Japanese cars are a better value, while only 14 percent give that honor to American-made cars. The percentage that views American cars as superior has declined from 35 percent nine years ago to less than half of what it was then. Read the poll (.pdf).

    For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.
    • Christine Lagorio

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