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According to a new poll from the Economist and YouGov, the Supreme Court’s choice to side with religious business owners against the Obama administration in last week’s Hobby Lobby case has boosted its image in the eyes of many Americans, especially political independents.

On June 30, the day of the Supreme Court ruling, more Americans viewed the high court negatively than positively, with 43 percent saying they had a poor impression of the court, compared to just 38 percent who said they approved of its performance. But one week later, after news of the ruling spread, those numbers were nearly reversed – 44 percent of the 1000 Americans polled now viewed the court favorably, as opposed to 41 percent who held a negative opinion of the court.

When broken down by political party affiliation, the numbers become even more striking.  On the day of the Hobby Lobby decision, 52 percent of political independents – the so-called “swing voters” politicians must attract to win races in the politically polarized U.S. – held a negative view of the Supreme Court, compared to 32 percent who viewed it favorably.  A week after the decision, those numbers had flipped.  Now, 53 percent say they are pleased with the court’s performance, compared to just 37 percent who expressed displeasure.

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When asked specifically about the Hobby Lobby decision, the answers were even more interesting.  While the mainstream news media has given large amounts of airtime to activists who oppose the court’s ruling, the American people collectively lean toward agreement with the court.  On the whole, 47 percent of Americans say they approve of the Hobby Lobby decision, while 41 percent oppose it.  While Republicans and Democrats split largely along party lines – 80 percent of Republicans support the ruling, while 63 percent of Democrats oppose it – political independents say they support the ruling by a margin of 53 to 36 percent.

Meanwhile, while feminist activist groups have made apocalyptic predictions of an electoral bloodbath for Republicans at the hands of angry female voters in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, the numbers released by the Economist and YouGov would seem to suggest otherwise.  While men are more likely to support the court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby – 51 percent support, 36 percent oppose – women are about evenly split, with 46 percent opposing the ruling and 43 percent in support.  That’s well within the 4.1 percent margin of error reported by the pollsters.


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