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Statesman Power Poll: Members say Senate should wait to confirm new SCOTUS justice

Austin, TX  |  October 7, 2020 9:00am  |  By Maribel Molina

In September’s Statesman Power Poll, the majority of responding members said the U.S. Senate should wait until the next presidential term to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court.

Members also responded that UT Austin should expand coronavirus testing to all football game attendees. However, voters were split on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to relax capacity limits at businesses.

The Statesman Power Poll surveys hundreds of influential community members every month. Nearly 200 members answered September’s poll.

The first question asked of members concerned coronavirus testing for Longhorn football games: Do you believe the University of Texas at Austin should expand coronavirus testing requirements to all attendees at football games?

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Just slightly more than half of voters, 53.14%, answered “yes.” Nearly a third, 30.86%, answered “no,” and 16% answered that they were “unsure.”

UT Austin has reduced the capacity at Royal-Memorial Stadium to 25%, roughly 25,000 people. Shortly before the first home game of the season, student season ticket holders were required to get tested for coronavirus. Nearly 100 of the 1,200 students tested were positive for the virus.

The second question on the Statesman Power Poll asked voters to weigh in on the recent Supreme Court vacancy: Do you believe the U.S. Senate should confirm a new Supreme Court nominee before the next presidential term begins?

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A little more than two-thirds of voting members, 68%, answered “no.” In contrast, 28.57%, answered “yes,” while only 3.43% answered “unsure.”

After the Sept. 18 death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, top Republicans have called for a speedy confirmation process, with Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell using a statement on Ginsburg’s passing to commit to voting on President Donald Trump’s nominee. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas stated he supports a confirmation vote before Election Day. Democrats have been vocal about their desire to wait until the next presidential term begins, mimicking their opponents in 2016 when then-President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland but the GOP-led Senate refused to hold hearings or a confirmation vote of the nominee.

The president officially announced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee on Sept. 26 at a White House gathering. The event has since come under intense scrutiny after multiple attendees, including the president and First Lady Melania Trump, developed COVID-19.

The final question addressed a development in Gov. Abbott’s reopening plan: Do you agree with Gov. Abbott's decision to allow businesses operating at 50% capacity to increase to 75% capacity?

Survey participants were more split on this topic, with the largest share of voters, 45.71%, answering “no.” Another 39.43% chose “yes,” and 14.86% chose “unsure.”

Last month, the state’s health agency updated its methodology used to calculate testing positivity rate. In mid-September, the governor issued an order to allow for various businesses to increase capacity from 50 to 75%. Some Texas Democrats criticized the move, which followed a statewide decline in hospitalizations due to coronavirus.

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