Just before news broke that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died, new polls were released that showed a majority of Americans in battleground states trusted Joe Biden over Donald Trump to choose the next nominee to the nation's highest court.
National polls have consistently shown Americans trusting the former vice president over the Republican incumbent to choose the next Supreme Court justice, an issue that stands to greatly reshape the entire 2020 presidential election in its final six weeks following the death of the 87-year-old judge.
The New York Times / Siena polls released on Friday surveyed key states including Arizona, Maine and North Carolina about which candidate voters trusted more to nominate the next Supreme Court justice.
Mr Biden led Mr Trump on the issue in Maine by 22 per cent. In Arizona, 47 per cent of voters said they trusted the former vice president over Mr Trump to choose the next nominee. Mr Biden also led the president by three per cent in Arizona.
Meanwhile, as the nation fell into a state of mourning over the loss of one of the most consequential Supreme Court justices in history, Republican leaders were calling on the president to select a nominee so they could fill the seat ahead of the November election — defying Ms Ginsburg’s reported dying wish.
In a statement dictated to her granddaughter just days before her death, NPR reported, Ms Ginsburg said: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.
Mr Biden mourned the death of Ms Ginsburg, saying “we should focus on the loss of the justice, and her enduring legacy” while noting: “But there is no doubt, let me be clear, that the voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider."
NYT/Siena polls of Arizona, Maine and North Carolina released on Friday showed that Biden led on which candidate voters trusted more to nominate the next Supreme Court Justice:
Arizona: Biden 53, Trump 43
NC: Biden 47, Trump 44
Maine: Biden 59, Trump 37https://t.co/0hao3XSojQ
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) September 19, 2020
The president also released a statement mourning the loss of Mr Ginsburg, who he said was “renewed for her brilliant mind” and was “a fighter to the end”.
The issue of an open seat on the Supreme Court caused a surge in voter turnout within the Republican Party in 2016, according to polls from the time. With Ms Ginsburg’s passing, it remains unclear whether the same will happen in 2020, or if Democrats and independents who trust Mr Biden over Mr Trump to select the nominee will be more inclined to cast a ballot.
The New York Times / Siena poll found that Mr Biden led Mr Trump by 18 per cent on the issue of selecting the next Supreme Court nominee among voters who had not yet decided on which candidate to support and others who said they were not supporting a major-party candidate.