What factors influence how the public judges judicial nominees? In this article we use an experimental approach to examine how variations in the qualifications and ideological and partisan divisiveness of a federal appellate court nominee affect support for confirmation of that nominee. Our results suggest that while both factors matter in evaluations of judicial nominees, the divisiveness and subjects’ ideology tend to be more important than qualifications. Moreover, we find evidence that the effect of qualifications, ideology, and divisiveness are conditional on institutional legitimacy. Those who hold the federal courts in high regard tend to weigh qualifications and judiciousness more than ideology. Those who hold federal courts with less regard tend to weigh ideology more than qualifications and judiciousness. Finally, we find evidence that subjects appear to view ideological moderation as an important qualification for office.
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