MENU

Key Findings from a National Survey of 800 Actual Voters

By Kellyanne Conway
November 05, 2008

TO:  Interested Parties

FROM: Kellyanne Conway, President & CEO
  the polling company™, inc.

DATE:  November 5, 2008

RE:  Key Findings from a National Survey of 600 Actual Voters


On behalf of The Federalist Society, the polling company™, inc. conducted a national telephone survey of 800 actual voters on the role of judicial issues in the 2008 election and their attitudes toward judicial philosophy.

Judicial Nominations on the Minds of Americans in the Voting Booth
More than two-fifths (41%) of actual voters said they considered the presidential candidates’ potential judicial nominees in their list of “top five” issues when casting their votes this week. 

Actual Voters Prefer Judicial Restraint
By a margin of more than 2-to-1, actual voters preferred the President nominate judges and justices who “believe that their roles as judges is solely to evaluate whether a law or lower court ruling is in line with the constitution” rather than those who “believe that their roles as judges is not simply to review the law as it is written and not take into account their own viewpoints and experiences” (67% vs. 24%). A limited judicial philosophy earned the support of a majority of actual voters across all self-identified party and ideological lines including 77% of Republicans, 70% of Independents and 60% of Democrats, and 74% of conservatives, 69% of moderates and 54% of liberals. 

In a separate inquiry, actual voters again demonstrated their preference for a restrained judicial philosophy.  By a margin of more than 3-to-1, actual voters favored judges who “will interpret and apply the law as it is written and not take into account their own viewpoints and experiences” over justices who “will go beyond interpreting and applying the law as written and take into account their own viewpoints and experiences” (70% vs. 22%).

“Law as Written” Deemed Top Consideration for Senatorial Confirmation of Justices
When given a list of attributes that U.S. Senators could consider in confirmation proceedings, more than two-in-five actual voters selected “a nominee who has a record of interpreting the law as it is written in past rulings” as most important. Conversely, the ideologically-juxtaposed viewpoint on judicial philosophy —“a nominee who has a record of incorporating personal views and experiences in past rulings” — earned the interest of less than one-in-ten actual voters. 

Voters Deem Equal Application of the Law as Most Important
A majority (53%) of actual voters in the United States agreed with the statement “we need judges who look at each individual equally.  We need judges who will apply the law the same to each person regardless of an individual’s background or cultural or economic circumstances,” and the plurality of actual voters felt strongly in support of this viewpoint.  Forty-three percent actual voters favored the opposing viewpoint: “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom.  The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old.  And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.”

Click the link below for the raw data.  **Updated on 11/7/2008 with crosstabs.**