Neil Gorsuch tops President Trump in public opinion polls

President Donald Trump's public-approval numbers may be sinking, but a new poll shows the public is giving the thumbs-up – mostly – to Neil Gorsuch, Trump's choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

A Long Island University poll released Monday found that 51 percent of the overall public approves of Gorsuch, a federal judge from Colorado whom Trump introduced to the nation Jan. 31. The poll, conducted from Feb. 3 through Feb. 6 of 855 registered voters, also found that 39 percent of the public disapproves of Gorsuch, a strict conservative, and 9 percent are undecided.

However, the public's opinion of Gorsuch, 49, breaks down by age, with just 36 percent of people ages 18 to 35 viewing him positively, and 49 percent who don't like him, according to the poll of 855 registered voters, conducted via text message. Fifty-two percent of voters aged 36 to 80 approve of Gorsuch, while 38 percent disapprove and 8 percent are undecided. The poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

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By contrast, Gallup's daily tracking poll Monday found that 40 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president so far, but 55 percent say they disapprove of his performance.

The poll comes as Gorsuch continues his meet-and-greet tour on Capitol Hill. Since his nomination, Gorsuch has followed a tradition of having informal, closed-door chats with senators who will hold hearings and decide if he should be confirmed to the high court.

Senate Republicans are thrilled with the nomination of Gorsuch, a staunch conservative whose record helps Trump keep a promise to fill the vacancy on the high court with Scalia's ideological twin. But Senate Democrats – still angry that the GOP linked arms, blocked former President Barack Obama from replacing Scalia and kept the seat open for a year – are itching for payback.

The party isn't unified, however: While some liberal senators have vowed to filibuster Gorsuch, others up for election in Republican-leaning states say the judge should get a confirmation vote, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has said the party will fight "tooth and nail" any nominee they consider out of the mainstream.

At the same time, if the Democrats filibuster Gorsuch, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky could deploy the so-called "nuclear option – use his power to strip Democrats of their right to block Gorsuch or any other of Trump's judicial nominees. But McConnell hasn't declared whether he'll use it, and Sen. Susan Collins, an influential Maine Republican, has said she opposes it.

Nevertheless, Gorsuch has impeccable credentials, including degrees with honors from Columbia, Harvard and Cambridge universities, and is said to be a brilliant writer. Those qualifications, coupled with the public's positive view of him so far, could make Democrats' calculations on whether to block the judge even more difficult.

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