Push Poll Used In Attempt To Derail Kagan

A conservative legal organization is touting the results of a poll taken among voters in select states in a gambit to defeat the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

The poll, paid for by the Judicial Crisis Network, more resembles a classic “push poll,” however, which is a negative campaign tactic disguised as a true opinion poll. Such a poll asks politically slanted questions in an attempt to influence the responses of the poll respondents.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of Kagan to be the next justice on the nation’s high court. Her nomination now must be decided by the full Senate, where most–if not all–of the majority Democrats are expected to vote for her. The Senate is expected to vote on the matter before it adjourns in August.

Kagan currently serves as the Obama administration’s solicitor general. She would replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, if confirmed.

Conservatives generally have come out strongly against the Kagan nomination; only Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has thus far supported her thus far among Senate Republicans.

The Judicial Crisis Network’s poll, however, seeks to convince at least three Democrats to vote against the nomination: Sens. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who face re-election this November; as well as Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who faces voters in that state next in 2012.

Although he wouldn’t run for re-election for more than two years, Nelson is seen as perhaps the most conservative of the Senate Democrats, often siding with Republicans on floor votes.

“Senators need to understand that their constituents equate a vote for Elena Kagan as support for all of Obama’s radical liberal agenda,” says Gary Marx, executive director of the Judicial Crisis Network.

The organization polled voters in Arkansas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The surveys were conducted using automated telephone touch tone technology, and each sample was randomly drawn from the respective state’s voter file, the Judicial Crisis Network says. The responses were weighted to reflect the voting demographics from the 2008, 2006, 2004 and 2002 election cycles, it adds.

The Judicial Crisis Network’s polls ask a series of questions that, while not entirely inaccurate, clearly try to paint Kagan in a highly liberal light.

One such statement the poll uses reads, “If confirmed, Elena Kagan is likely to rule in favor of President Obama’s health care bill.”

That statement is particularly misleading as there is no present case pending at the Supreme Court as it regards the healthcare reform law enacted in March. Also, Kagan has given no indication that she is likely to rule one way or another if confirmed.

The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.

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