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This Oct. 5, 2011 photo shows Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Jim Lo Scalzo—EPA

Americans are split down the middle over whether the Senate should vote this year on President Obama’s eventual Supreme Court nominee or wait until he leaves office, according to a new survey.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal national survey found that 43% of people said the Senate should vote this year, while 42% would rather leave the matter to the next President. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday has sparked a political battle over nominating a successor.

The divide was pronounced along party lines, as some Republicans have said they will fight any attempt by Obama to appoint a replacement for the conservative judge. The survey found that 81% Republicans want to block an Obama nominee, while the exact opposite is true with Democrats, as 81% of them want the Senate to vote this year.

The split extended to independents, with 43% in favor of voting this year and 42% saying next year.

The poll was conducted Feb. 14 to 16 with a sample of 800 registered voters and an overall margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

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