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October 07, 2005

CBS on Miers

Last night, CBS News released a new and very comprehensive survey conducted Monday through Wednesday evenings this week (The CBS web site has complete results plus a two-part written analysis covering the Miers nomination, the Bush job rating and more).  It includes some data that begins to provide a hint at the historical context in regards to the Harriet Miers nomination that our friend Mickey Kaus has been looking for (scroll to "First Poll")

There is much in this survey to chew over (including the finding of a "new low" in the overall Bush job rating), but for now, MP will just pass on some of their findings on the Harriet Miers nomination along with some of their historical numbers.

One thing that CBS often does a bit differently than other pollsters is to prompt respondents to say when they "haven't heard enough to have an opinion."  They have always done so on questions about Supreme Court nominees.  As such, this practice probably gives us a better sense of those with truly informed opinions (as opposed to respondents who form an opinion on the spot in the midst of the survey). 

On their latest poll, CBS found an overwhelming majority of Americans either "undecided" about Miers (18%) or who haven't heard enough to say (58%).  The rest split evenly, with 11% rating her favorably and 11% unfavorably. Earlier in the summer, a full ten days after his nomination to be associate justice, CBS found 25% rating John Roberts favorably and 7% unfavorably.  As with the Gallup survey released earlier this week, CBS found the biggest differences in reactions to Miers and Roberts among Republicans and conservatives.

However, CBS also asked the ultimately more pertinent question, one they have asked about previous nomineees: "Should the Senate vote to confirm Harriet Miers as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, or vote against Miers, or can't you say?"  Most (70%) could not say, but those with an opinion split almost evenly, 14% to confirm and 13% to reject.

Earlier this month, in the context of a poll on John Roberts, CBS provided results of this question when asked about Robert Bork (in 1987) and Clarence Thomas (in 1991). To be fair, the historical data comes later in the confirmation battles of the earlier nominees, all of whom had been announced several months before CBS asked the "should the Senate confirm" question.  Obviously only a few days have passed since Bush the Miers' selection, and opinions about her may well change in the coming weeks and months. 

With that important caveat in mind, here is how the comparisons stack up (the field dates for the surveys, as provided by CBS, are in parentheses):


Again,  it's early.  However, these results show that most Americans remain inattentive to the Supreme Court nominees even toward the end of high profile fights like those over the Thomas and Bork nominations.  Considering that, the fact that early reactions for Miers look more like Bork than Thomas or Roberts does not bode well. 

Related Entries - Polls in the News

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on October 7, 2005 at 02:34 AM in Polls in the News | Permalink


I would have to confess that I'm one of those individuals who think that the polls in this particular case are probably irrelevant. The crucial factor in my mind is that Miers was apparently on the list of acceptable candidates delivered to the White House by Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid. From here vis a vis Reid there's only two really viable scenarios:

1) If Reid follows through and declares his support for Miers the question becomes what will the rest of the Democratic Senate do? If they vote against Miers the risk is that Reid will be weakened by apparent rebellion within the ranks. Maybe some of the more liberal Democrats would welcome that, but is now really the time for them to be fighting amongst themselves?

Needless to say, under this scenario a filibuster is completely impossible.

2) Reid can withdraw his support, come up with some excuse, and oppose her nomination.

At this point the White House could legitimately gripe that they have done the bi-partisan thing and that it's not their fault that Harry Reid can't make up his mind. Would Reid's defection actually accomplish anything? A filibuster, the presumptive means the Democrats would employ to block Miers' confirmation, would be possible only with the acquiescence of the moderate Democratic Senators who negotiated an end to the confirmation standoff earlier this year. Would they really be willing to start a war when Reid was arguably one of the people responsible for putting Miers up for confirmation in the first place?

This all begs the question of why Reid likes Miers so much in the first place. Am I the only one who finds it notable that various media outlets have reported that Reid is pro-life?

Posted by: lewy | Oct 7, 2005 9:00:47 AM

I agree with you that the polls are irrelevent. However I think that if anyone stands in the way of Miers' nomination it would be conservatives. The last thing conservatives want is another Kennedy, O'Connor, or Souter. And, most conservatives do not want someone that will just rule their way, they want someone that has a thorough philosophy of why they will rule a certain way. Miers may be pro-life and against abortion and may even vote that way. What many want, though, is someone that can articulate why they are against it in a concise and clear way.

Posted by: Dave | Oct 7, 2005 10:37:51 AM

How to make sense of Bush's numbers hitting a new low. Last week, I saw an article or two on how they'd hit the "floor" and were rebounding somewhat (following the Gallup poll last week--or was it this week?). So are these findings an outlier? Were last week's reflecting a bump and now it's back to the slide?

Hard to say (though I'd be interested to hear your thoughts), but one thing is suggested by the findings: nominating Harriet Miers certainly didn't help shore up his numbers.

Posted by: Jeff | Oct 7, 2005 11:32:47 AM

I think it's pretty worthless to compare a poll of Roberts that took place six weeks after his nomination to a poll of Miers that took place beginning the very same day she was nominated....

Posted by: D | Oct 7, 2005 12:36:43 PM

look at question 46. kinda heartening.

Posted by: jj | Oct 7, 2005 4:20:19 PM

Jeff: At first I also thought the CBS poll might be an outlier, but the new AP/Ipsos (October3-5) also shows him down one percent from the previous poll (from 40 to 39). http://www.pollingreport.com/BushJob.htm

OTOH, Rasmussen will probably show Bush in 45-47 percent territory forever. (This may have something to do with the fact that they weight for party identification. I think it's likely that dissatisfaction with Bush, while it may not have increased the number of Democrats, has led some people who once classified themselves as Republicans to call themselves Independents. If you assume that party affiliation always remains constant, you will probably underestimate changes, positive or negative, in a president's popularity. OTOH, Zogby also weights for party ID and it shows more change than Rasmussen--most recetnly it had Bush up to 43 percent, though that was before the Miers nomination.)

Posted by: David T | Oct 7, 2005 8:17:39 PM

...so what's the polling 'track-record' for accuracy in predicting Supreme Court appointments ???

Did polls over the last 25 years provide any 'accurate' information on this issue ?

Did they provide even any 'useful' information ?

Are such polling efforts merely 'noise'...
or real 'information' ?


Posted by: Prentiss | Oct 8, 2005 4:38:34 AM

Most of you gentlemen strung Ms Miers up 39 seconds after the announcement. Katy Couric dragged out some obscure Conn. professor whom had never tried a case with several hundred thousand on the table. Nor did any say that both Disney and Microsoft trusted her with some of their most difficult cases.They did not interview Federal Judges in the Northern district of Texas that Harriet had helped obtain the judgeships. Harriet said in her acceptance of the nomination "the genius of the Constitution" and their founders....does that sound like a liberal? Nope, It was George Bush Bashing as usual and the so-called conservatives jumped and ran with it. I have sat around wealthty republicans and cannot believe the trash coming from their mouths. A few years back, at a petroleum club I was asked who would make a good president, I suggested Dr. Condi Rice. 100% scofted at me, best I can tell it was gender and color. Ms Rice is both highly intelligent, classy, and experienced in matters of state. I feel and still feel she could easily trump a Hillery with zero experience and a nasty background.
Well, seems like it is not to be and for the country club crowd they may end up with a man of color and not ONE adult success in his lifetime. (you need to research how he became a U.S. Senator) (the heavy favorite got caught with big scandel one week before election) It was a default win. This man would not be considered if he was not black.......and that is not racial for I am for a qualified minority "Dr Rice" president.
He talks a good game, but so does jesse Jackson. Enough of currant politic's

I think Ms Miers will continue to live her exemptory life as she always has.
For the most accurate picture of Harriet's life, google and read "the miers they missed" it is all true, it was never told to anyone, a honest Washington Post reporter discovered it, and to my suprise published it (WP dislikes anyone remotely connected to W.
One last word, snake Coulter said SMU wasn't a real law school, she didn't check either, and Harry Truman (who the Dem's trot out for their convience, didn't have a college degree, and LBJ graduated from a obscure central texas teachers school. Snake Coulter's folks have emptied her state with unions and not having the freedom to work without a union. This post comes from a true conservative who does appove of elitism on any side. That means the little four eyed twit on Sunday morning (George Will) who is liberal enough for the network to let stay on. Constitutional experience my foot, The average american can read and understand it.

Posted by: lylikdog | Feb 22, 2008 10:40:32 PM

Boy, Howdy, as they say in texas. If you google "the miers they missed" google comes up with do you mean
"the liars they missed" Thanks Google and CBS for replacing a true and lovely story by the Washington Post with a duplicate storyline put out by CBS. It has totally different content and different meaning.
I guess I should expect a small amount of honesty from the third largest media but thats too much to ask. Major media think Americans are fools and you can tell them what you want...and you do to many poor uninformed folks. Keep sticking with your movie stars.
And for those who jumped on Harriet five minutes after the newscast. You have your marching orders and therefore can be described as stooges or shills. You do not have honor or respect. Do you hear that George Wills and Ann Coulter?? twit and entertainer methinks. Get some little round glasses or some long legs and ya think you are believable. Bask in your importance for now, you may be proved to be the bozo's you are. Katy Couric is getting her justice now.
I respectfully ask all to search for the original "the miers they missed" by the washington post (who is not a friend of any Bush person) but this article is not only true, but a honest reporter who spent a week in Dallas researching her with suprising results. Her story includes a kindness not even her family knew.

Posted by: lylikdog | May 20, 2008 11:20:38 PM

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