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WASHINGTON – Early support for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito is considerably weaker among such key groups as evangelicals, Republicans and the wealthy than it was for John Roberts, an AP-Ipsos poll found. The survey put public sentiment for Alito closer to the level of early backing for the failed nomination of Harriet Miers. About four in 10 respondents – 38 percent – say they back the confirmation of Alito, a federal appeals court judge from Philadelphia. Twenty-two percent say they strongly support him. For Roberts, now the chief justice, 47 percent said in July that they supported his confirmation, 36 percent strongly. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Nearly two-thirds of evangelicals supported Roberts’ confirmation with half strongly backing him. For Alito, about half of evangelicals support his confirmation, one-third strongly. There were similar drops among Republicans and among people who make more than $75,000 a year. Alito’s selection followed the implosion of the Miers nomination, which could leave some people slow to embrace President George W. Bush’s latest nominee, said presidential scholar Charles Jones, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “That has led to a hesitancy among some Republicans, conservatives and evangelicals,” Jones said. “The Miers experience really raised doubts about the president and his judgment; it’s more of a wait-and-see.” Despite Bush’s call for the Senate to confirm Alito by the end of December, the Senate put off hearings until Jan. 9, giving Judiciary Committee investigators and the public more time to delve into his background and record as a judge. Bush, in Argentina for a 34-nation Summit of the Americas, told reporters he was “disappointed in the date but happy they do have a firm date for his confirmation hearing.” Several Republican officials said the president was considerably more insistent in a telephone conversation Thursday with Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the chairman of the committee. In a call placed from Air Force One, Bush said emphatically that he wanted Alito confirmed by year’s end. Specter replied that wasn’t possible. Officials who described the call did so on condition of anonymity, citing the private nature of the conversation. Alito has met with at least two dozen senators as he courts support among the 100 Americans with the power to approve or reject his nomination, but among the public, his profile is vague. “I don’t know enough about him to have an opinion,” said Ann Clark, who lives near Reading, Pa., and leans Republican. “I want to make sure that he’s compassionate toward the working class and the middle class.” The nomination of Alito comes at a pivotal time for the Supreme Court. He is a solidly conservative judge who will be replacing Sandra Day O’Connor, a moderate swing vote on the court who helped guide decisions on such contentious issues as abortion, affirmative action and religion. One in five Democrats say Alito should be confirmed to the court, and twice as many, 41 percent, say he should not be. “I’m worried that he is going to vote against women’s rights,” said Elizabeth Gardner, a Democratic-leaning resident of Wellesley, Mass. “If women don’t have the right to choose, then they’re no longer equal.” A solid majority of Americans oppose overturning the landmark case legalizing abortion, but polls have found most willing to support some restrictions. White House spokesman Steve Schmidt said he’s confident “the American people will be very comfortable with Judge Alito as he moves through this process.” If Alito wins confirmation, he would become the fifth Roman Catholic on the court, the most ever. Although evangelical Protestants historically have been wary of Catholics, relations between the two groups have warmed in recent years because of shared concerns over abortion and the declining role of religion in American life. For Patricia Carter, an evangelical from Roland, Okla., the most important factor is that Alito is “a Christian, a conservative and the choice of President Bush.” “What I’ve heard about him I like,” she said. “If the Democrats don’t like him, he’s got to be good.” The telephone poll of 1,006 adults was conducted Monday through Wednesday by Ipsos, an international polling firm and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, larger for subgroups. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!