The Supreme Court’s favorability rating has edged below 50% for the first time in nearly three decades of Pew Research Center polling. Currently, 48% have a favorable opinion of the court while 38% have an unfavorable opinion.
In March, before the court’s end-of-term decisions on same-sex marriage and the Voting Rights Act, 52% had a favorable impression of the Supreme Court while 31% had an unfavorable opinion.
The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 17-21 among 1,480 adults nationwide, finds that African Americans’ views of the court have become much more negative in the aftermath of the court’s decisions.
In March, 61% of blacks viewed the court favorably while 24% had an unfavorable opinion. Today, their opinions are divided (44% favorable vs. 41% unfavorable). This is among the lowest favorable ratings for the Supreme Court among blacks in polling dating to 1985.
The survey finds that partisan differences in opinions about the Supreme Court – which widened substantially last year after the court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act – have narrowed since then. Currently, 54% of Democrats, 48% of Republicans and 47% of independents express favorable opinions of the court.
Last July, there was a 26-point partisan gap in favorable views of the court: 64% of Democrats viewed the court favorably compared with just 38% of Republicans. Since then, favorable ratings of the court have declined 10 points among Democrats, while increasing by 10 points among Republicans. Independents’ views have shown less change (47% favorable today, 51% last July).
Views of Court’s Ideology
As was the case in March, conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats have contrasting opinions about the Supreme Court’s ideology. Half (50%) of conservative Republicans say the court is liberal, compared with just 8% who say it is conservative (35% say it is “middle of the road”). Liberal Democrats are far more likely to say the court is conservative (40%) than liberal (19%), with 35% saying it is middle of the road.
Nearly half of conservative and moderate Democrats (47%) say the court is middle of the road, as do 45% of moderate and liberal Republicans and 44% of independents.
The percentage of conservative Republicans who view the Supreme Court as liberal has increased markedly since the Bush administration. In 2007, just 22% of conservative Republicans said the court was liberal. That percentage rose to 39% in 2010 and stands at 50% today.