In the past, Republican voters care more about the Supreme Court than Democrats. The death of Justice Ginsburg may change the equation.
First, she had a unique status. No death of a Supreme Court Justice has triggered such an outpouring of emotion.
- A 2020 Marquette Law School poll found that she was the best-known justice.
- A 2019 Fox poll found that she was Americans' favorite justice.
Even before Ginsburg’s death, there were signs that Democratic voters cared more about the courts this election. Four years ago, 70% of Trump supporters said Supreme Court appointments were a “very important” issue, compared with 62% of Hillary Clinton backers. This time, Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s supporters are 5 percentage points more likely than Trump supporters to rank court appointments as a top concern, according to polling done by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
That shift stems, in part, from the GOP’s recent successes in installing conservative judges at all levels of the judiciary. During Trump’s tenure, more than 200 federal judges have been confirmed and two justices have been appointed to the high court. The raft of new, younger judges will influence the judiciary for decades to come.
Until 2016, the threat of a conservative Supreme Court was never fully realized. The foundation of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion, has been repeatedly upheld, albeit steadily chipped away. And there were other wins, notably the legalization of same-sex marriage.
“I’ve talked to dozens and dozens of women in the last 24 hours, many of whom are not at all interested in politics, who are ready to leave the sidelines and start phone banking, door knocking and doing whatever it takes,” said Rebecca Katz, a New York-based progressive strategist.
The reason, she said, was simple: “The threat of overturning Roe is no longer hypothetical. That’s it in a nutshell.”
Privately, one Biden campaign advisor agreed, noting that the fear of abortion being outlawed is an unparalleled motivator for younger voters — especially women — who may not be enthused about the Democratic nominee “and need a reason to get fired up.”
For many younger women, the strategist said, “RBG was iconic and adored … and abortion is the one issue that people connect with the Supreme Court most of all.”
The most prolific online fundraising platform for Democratic candidates and causes said Sunday morning that donors had contributed more than $91 million in the 28 hours after the Supreme Court announced Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died.
ActBlue said Ginsburg’s death had led to an unprecedented surge of donations to progressive groups. Donors gave $6.3 million in just one hour late Friday, and $70.6 million on Saturday, the platform said, both records for their respective time periods.The previous daily record was nearly $42 million. The previous hourly record was just over $4 million.