New Saint Leo University Polling Institute findings reflects March 2017 survey  

ST. LEO, FL – About half of American adults contacted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( support the appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court of federal Judge Neil Gorsuch, who will appear before the U.S. Senate this week for confirmation hearings.

Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald J. Trump to fill the vacancy on the court created by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. While former President Barack Obama put a nominee before the U.S. Senate the next month—federal Judge Merrick Garland—Republicans refused to schedule a hearing, effectively blocking Garland’s nomination until after the November elections. Trump’s victory opened the door for a conservative to select a nominee, and for the Republican-controlled Senate to make the decision on whether to confirm or reject the 45th president’s choice.

Earlier this month in a nonpartisan survey, the Saint Leo University Polling Institute asked 1,073 adults nationally how strongly they support or oppose the Gorsuch nomination.

Just over half, at 50.4 percent, support the nomination to some degree: 26.7 percent strongly supported it and 23.7 percent somewhat supported it.

Another 14.9 percent were somewhat opposed and 12.7 percent were strongly opposed, for a combined percentage of 27.6 percent. Almost as many, 22 percent, were unsure. The poll results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

“Republicans should be relatively happy with these numbers,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. Gorsuch received the support of 86.2 percent of the Republicans in the survey, plus just over half (50.2 percent) of independents, even though only 28 percent of Democrats supported Gorsuch.

“In an era when any pick made by the opposing party is attacked, it appears as though Gorsuch’s strong reputation has been able to keep him above the fray,” Orlando continued. “There’s little doubt that this has been President Trump’s most successful move in the White House so far.”

When Gorsuch, a respected legal intellectual, goes before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary late Monday morning, he will be entering an environment where political payback could influence what happens next.

The normal process is for the judiciary committee to decide whether to recommend a nominee to the full Senate for confirmation. If that happens, and the nominee’s name goes to the full Senate, a majority vote in favor would place the nominee on the high court. But the voting process could be stalled and blocked by the creation on the Senate floor of a successful filibuster (long periods of talking to prevent real action), as some have discussed in this case. That is, Democrats in the Senate still angry over the Republican treatment of former nominee Merrick Garland could punish the GOP by employing a filibuster now.

The survey asked about this. Specifically, respondents were asked:

     Would you recommend the U.S. Senate Democrats use the filibuster to
      stop the president’s nominee for the United States Supreme Court?

Just about one-third, at 33.2 percent, said yes; 41.9 percent said no. Nearly a quarter, at 24.9 percent, were unsure.

“The public’s understanding of techniques like the filibuster is limited, so voters will tend to fall back on partisan loyalties when answering this question,” Orlando said. “That being said, results show that the Democrats have a lot of work to do in terms of messaging if they are going to sway public opinion on this issue.”  Orlando further noted that more than one quarter of Democrats (26.3 percent) reported being unsure about the filibuster, even though 57.4 percent of Democrats polled said they would recommend the filibuster. Just over 16 percent said no.

And realistically, Orlando added, almost all Republicans (nearly 73 percent) oppose the filibuster, and “most critically” independents don’t favor it either. Nearly 48 percent oppose it, the poll shows. “This means that if the Democrats hang together, it’s an appeal to their base, and not much else.”

The responses to the overall national questions on the Gorsuch nomination have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In Florida, which went for Trump in the election, more than half of respondents reacted positively to Gorsuch as a nominee. Florida, the home state of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, opinions were measured through a separate population sample of 507 respondents. The results from the Florida sample have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. (Charts follow at end).

-End of text-

Supreme Court politics – responses in tables

How strongly do you support or oppose the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the United States Supreme Court?

National – percent Florida – percent
 1 Strongly support 26.7 30.4
 2 Somewhat support 23.7 23.9
 3 Somewhat oppose 14.9 13.4
 4 Strongly opposed 12.7 11.2
 5 Unsure 22.0 21.1
 Total 100.0 100.0


Would you recommend the U.S. Senate Democrats use the filibuster to stop the president’s nominee for the United States Supreme Court?

National – percent Florida – percent
1 Yes 33.2 34.9
2 No 41.9 44.8
3 Unsure 24.9 20.3
Total 100.0 100.0


Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).     

Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).


More About Our Research

METHODOLOGY: All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The national poll of 1,073 adults was conducted from March 3 through March 11, 2017 and has a plus or minus 3.0 percent margin of error. A sample of 507 adults in Florida were also surveyed during the same time period. The findings from the Florida survey have a plus or minus 4.5 percent margin of error.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever our students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. We welcome people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourage learners of all generations. We are committed to providing educational opportunities to our nation’s armed forces, our veterans, and their families. We are regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and we guide all our students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

We remain the faithful stewards of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where our founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 15,000 students, we have expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintain a physical presence in seven states. We provide highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 82,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.