Racism, affirmative action charges fail to derail Sotomayor nomination

Vicious personal attacks leveled by conservatives designed to undermine the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court haven’t yet turned the public against the likely first Latina judge appointed to the nation’s highest bench.

A just released AP-GfK poll finds strong public support and high favorability rankings for the federal appellate judge’s fitness for the bench. The survey was conducted while torrents of criticism led by former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo’s racism charges pounding Sotomayor reached fever pitch this week.

The survey of 1,000 adults reports that 50 percent support Sotomayor’s confirmation and 34 percent had favorable views of her as opposed to 18 percent who had unfavorable opinions and just one-in-five respondents who don’t want her seated on the court.

Still, in the first snapshot of Americans’ verdict on the president’s nominee, there is a bit of room for movement. High numbers of adults haven’t heard enough to form an opinion about her (39 percent) or to say whether Sotomayor should replace Justice David Souter (27 percent).

Whether conservatives can push the undecideds to oppose Sotomayor may be found in the bread crumb trail of recent political identity polls that have GOP operatives scrambling.

A Monday Gallup poll showed the Republican Party is overwhelmingly dominated by white conservatives while Latino voters, the fastest growing electoral bloc, identify as Democrats or unaffiliated by a five-fold margin.

If portions of the white, conservative GOP base are some of the undecideds, it would appear the “Sotomayor as affirmative action pick” boogeyman attacks aren’t having the desired effect. If those who didn’t answer the pollster’s questions are liberal or people of color, good luck advancing that line of thought. Sixty-three percent of AP-GfK survey respondents favor affirmative action for women and 56 percent give the nod to race/ethnicity-based programs.

In more bad news for those seeking to derail the confirmation process, a May 25-28 Research 2000 poll reports a paltry seven percent of millennial voters aged 18-29 have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party. That’s a disastrous revelation for GOP activists working to persuade a highly activated new voting bloc to jump on board what increasingly appears to be a confirmation filibuster train wreck.

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Wendy Norris

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