Yet for all the political division inherent in the current nomination debate, it might be a little overblown to suggest that the issue will play a central role in the 2016 elections.
Americans theoretically consider the topic a serious one: 58 percent, including more than three-quarters of Republicans, said future appointments to the Supreme Court will be at least somewhat important to their vote in November.
But that doesn't mean it's at the top of everyone's minds. Asked to choose the two election issues that mattered most to them, just 6 percent of respondents said they were focused on which party gets to nominate Supreme Court justices -- and the issue ranked dead last in a list of nine topics.
That could change if the Supreme Court vacancy becomes a regular talking point on the campaign trail, but there's reason to suspect that its impact will remain limited.
"[R]esearch shows that the Supreme Court is a well-respected institution but not very important for most voters," political scientist Julia Azari wrote Wednesday. "[V]oting has become polarized and predictable -- leaving few voters to be swayed by a fight over the court."