What The Polls Say After Trump’s Second Indictment

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly-ish polling roundup.

After eight years, Americans have made up their minds about former President Donald Trump. And it appears that not even a federal indictment is swaying them. According to polls conducted before and after Trump’s indictment on June 8, Trump’s support levels in both the primary and general election don’t appear to have budged, even though a large majority of Americans view the charges as serious. In the Republican primary, he is currently at 53.5 percent support, according to FiveThirtyEight’s national polling average. That’s little changed from June 7, the day before the indictment, when he was sitting at 53.8 percent. (The other candidates have all held roughly steady too.)

It’s not that Americans have somehow missed the news. Trump’s indictment has gotten mountains of media coverage. According to a recent YouGov/CBS News poll, 75 percent of American adults had heard or read at least some about the latest indictment. And overall, they don’t see the content of the charges as frivolous: Sixty-nine percent agreed that, yes, it would be a security risk if Trump had nuclear or military documents in his home after leaving office. Another poll, from Ipsos/ABC News, found that 61 percent of American adults — including 38 percent of Republicans — thought the charges were very or somewhat serious. (Compare that to the 52 percent of adults who thought that about Trump’s first indictment, over hush-money payments to a porn star with whom he allegedly had an affair.) 

But when it comes to questions about charging and convicting Trump, a consistent divide emerges: A plurality support what prosecutors are doing, but a substantial minority thinks they went too far.

  • Per Ipsos/ABC News, 48 percent of adults believed he should have been charged, and 35 percent believed he should not have been.
  • Per Data for Progress, 50 percent of likely voters thought the charges were appropriate to hold Trump accountable, and 45 percent thought they were politically driven to attack him.
  • Per Ipsos/Reuters, 48 percent of adults believed Trump is being treated fairly relative to President Biden’s and former Vice President Mike Pence’s own possession of classified documents, and 34 percent believed he was being treated unfairly.
  • Per Civiqs/Daily Kos, 50 percent of registered voters believed Trump is guilty of crimes that merit jail time, and 42 percent believed he is not.

If those numbers look familiar, they’re similar to the roughly 40-percent-to-55-percent split Trump has had in his approval/disapproval and favorable/unfavorable ratings since 2017. In other words, when it comes to questions about concrete consequences for Trump, Americans are responding in the same way they have for years.

And as a result, the indictment doesn’t seem to have affected Trump’s standing in the 2024 presidential race so far. That lack of movement might seem surprising after Trump gained in the polls in April after his first indictment. But there are a couple of reasons why Trump might not be getting the same boost. First, it’s possible that anyone who was inclined to rally toward Trump because he was under legal attack has already done so. Second, Trump may not have gained in the polls in April because of his first indictment. Trump actually started rising in the polls on March 21, over a week before the indictment, and the rate of his increase was about the same before and after. In addition, from March 29 to May 29, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis actually lost more ground (8.2 percentage points) than Trump gained (6.4 points), suggesting the shift may have had more to do with DeSantis losing ground than Trump gaining (during this period, DeSantis endured several bad headlines about whether he was ready for primetime).

Trump’s position also hasn’t really changed among the overall electorate. In an average of seven polls of registered voters taken since the latest indictment, Trump leads Biden in a hypothetical general-election matchup 42.6 percent to 41.4 percent. That’s virtually identical to the average of those seven pollsters’ previous, pre-federal-indictment polls. 

Trump-Biden polling is steady since the federal indictment

Polls of a hypothetical 2024 general election match-up between Joe Biden and Donald Trump conducted after Trump’s federal indictment on June 8, compared with the last time the pollster polled the same race

Pollster Biden Trump Biden Trump Margin Shift
Big Village 40% 45% 42% 45% D+2
Harris/Harvard 40 47 39 45 D+1
Morning Consult 43 41 42 42 R+2
Premise 42 44 43 44 D+1
Quinnipiac 48 46 48 44 D+2
Redfield & Wilton 40 37 35 37 R+5
YouGov/The Economist 43 40 41 41 R+3
Average 42.3 42.9 41.4 42.6 R+0.6

Source: Polls

In addition, all of the shifts were within the margin of error. For example, Quinnipiac’s poll moved from a 2-point Biden lead among registered voters before the indictment to a 4-point Biden lead afterward. But the margin of error of Quinnipiac’s latest poll was 2.4 points, so that could have just been statistical noise.

(Quick note here: General-election polls don’t have much predictive value at this point in the election cycle. But they are still perfectly good measures of where the electorate would be if the election were held today, so they can still be useful for answering questions like, “Are voters abandoning Trump after his indictment?”)

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Trump’s legal troubles won’t hurt him come fall 2024; just that they haven’t hurt him so far. And one thing the polls do suggest is that a hypothetical Trump conviction would be a dealbreaker for a majority of voters (or at least, that’s what they say right now). According to YouGov/CBS News, 57 percent of Americans believed that Trump should not be able to serve again as president if he’s convicted in the classified-documents case. And we’ve already seen some Republican politicians draw the same line in the sand: Reps. Ken Buck and Tim Burchett (not exactly moderate congressmen!) have both said recently that they could not support Trump anymore if he is convicted.

However, even if Trump is convicted in this case, it may not happen before November 2024 given how slowly the legal process moves. And of course, Republicans could always change their mind about supporting a convicted felon if the alternative is four more years of a president they despise. (Just look at how quickly Republicans returned to the fold after the Access Hollywood tape in the 2016 election.) On the other hand, Trump could still yet find himself in even more legal hot water in the other two cases in which he is currently under investigation. So the bottom line is, we’ll have to wait and see how the long arm of the law affects Trump’s political chances.

Other polling bites

  • A new Gallup poll has found that Americans have taken a right turn on social issues — or at least, in how they label themselves. Thirty-eight percent of Americans now say they are conservative or very conservative on social issues, while 29 percent say they are liberal or very liberal. In 2022, those numbers were 33 percent and 34 percent, respectively. While independents have gotten a little more conservative over the past year, the shift is primarily being driven by more Republicans identifying as conservative and fewer identifying as moderate.
  • One social issue that that Gallup poll asked about was transgender rights. Fifty-five percent of Americans said that it was morally wrong for people to change their gender, while 43 percent said it was morally acceptable. Americans also said 69 percent to 26 percent that transgender athletes should be allowed to play only on teams that match their birth gender.
  • In early June, smoke from Canadian wildfires blew down into the Northeastern U.S., leading to historically poor and unhealthy air quality in places like New York City. However, most residents of these areas didn’t change their habits. According to a poll from CivicScience, 64 percent of Americans who said the air quality in their area was poor also said they had not limited their time outdoors because of it. Another 6 percent said they had not limited their time outdoors but that they did wear a mask to protect themselves. By contrast, 7 percent of Americans who self-reported poor air quality in their area said they avoided going outside completely, and 22 percent said they had spent less, but not zero, time outdoors.
  • Restaurants, take note: According to YouGov, 71 percent of Americans prefer a paper menu when they dine out, while just 10 percent prefer to access the menu via a QR code. However, 15 percent said they didn’t have a preference. 

Biden approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 40.9 percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 54.4 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -13.5 points). At this time last week, 41.0 percent approved and 55.2 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of -14.1 points). One month ago, Biden had an approval rating of 42.4 percent and a disapproval rating of 52.7 percent, for a net approval rating of -10.4 points.

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