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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 02:39 PM ET, 07/01/2008

McCain Courts Public Opinion

Sen. John McCain took up the cause of conservative judges this morning, announcing at a meeting of the National Sherriff's Association that if elected, he would appoint justices who mirror the views of Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia.

His attention to the issue is a foray into one of the few domestic issues on which McCain and his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, are closely matched. In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 45 percent said they trusted Obama more to handle the appointment of Supreme Court justices, 43 percent preferred McCain. On most other domestic issues, including the economy, health care, taxes, gas prices and issues of special concern to women, Obama held larger leads.

The Post-ABC News poll suggests McCain may be able to attract some Democrats on this issue. McCain garnered greater support among Democrats (19 percent) than Obama did from Republicans (7 percent). But independents, who are likely to be a key swing group this cycle, gave Obama a narrow edge, 45 percent to 39 percent.

Beyond party affiliation, some of the most high-profile issues the Court has considered deeply divide voters. Those in gun-owning households favored McCain on appointments to the Court, 50 percent to 37 percent, while those without a gun in the house broke for Obama, 52 percent to 37 percent. Opinions on abortion led to a similar schism: Fifty-six percent of those who said abortion should be legal in most or all cases said they trust Obama more to appoint justices, while 55 percent of those who believe it should be illegal in most or all cases said they prefer McCain.

Feminists gave Obama a wide lead on Supreme Court appointments, 67 percent to 23 percent, while white evangelical Protestants were largely in McCain's corner, 64 percent to 22 percent. Those who felt African Americans in their community face discrimination occasionally or more trust Obama by a 2 to 1 margin, while those who said such discrimination does not happen where they live preferred McCain 54 percent to 31 percent.

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Q. Regardless of who you may support, who do you trust more to handle appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court - Obama or McCain?

SOURCE: Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted by telephone June 11-15, 2008 among a random national sample of 561 adults. Results have a four point error margin.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  02:39 PM ET, 07/01/2008

Categories:  Post Polls

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