Despite three criminal indictments, the threat of hundreds of years of prison-time and an unprecedented media assault on his character and reputation, former President Donald Trump has maintained his head-to-head lead in polls against President Joe Biden. How is that possible? A significant number of Americans simply don’t believe the charges are valid, the latest I&I/TIPP Poll shows.
For this month’s online national poll, taken August 2-4 of 1,369 adults, we asked the following:
“Former President Trump is facing more than 40 federal charges in connection with the Mar-a-Lago classified records case and the investigation into the protests in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. In total, these charges could amount to hundreds of years in prison. What best describes how you feel about these charges?”
We then provided four possible responses:
- “The charges seem legitimate and should be pursued.”
- “The charges are political harassment by the Biden administration to keep Trump from running for re-election in 2024.”
- “The charges are exaggerated, but even if some are true, I will still vote for Trump in 2024.”
- “Not sure.”
Given the massive media exposure to the multiple legal actions against former President and current candidate Trump, it’s probably no great shock that a slight majority of 51% responded that the “charges seem legitimate and should be pursued.” The poll’s margin of error is +/-2.7 percentage points.
Among those responding, another 10% called themselves “unsure.”
Even so, more than a third (39%) of Americans had a far harsher judgment of Trump’s legal travails. Thirty percent responded that the legal charges Trump faces are “political harassment” by the Biden administration intended to keep Trump from running, while 9% said the charges were “exaggerated,” but even if they were true they’d still vote for Trump.
As always seems the case these days, the differences among different political parties and affiliations are huge.
For instance, 76% of Democrats called the raft of sudden indictments against Trump “legitimate” and said they should be “pursued,” while a minority of 15% of Republicans and 49% of independents agreed with that.
On the question of whether the legal charges amounted to “political harassment” to keep Trump out of the 2024 presidential race, the breakdown of those who agreed was similarly lopsided: Democrats 15%, Republicans 56%, and independents 29%.
The smallest response came from our final question, with 3% of Democrats calling the Trump charges exaggerated but saying they would still vote for him, while a somewhat larger 18% of Republicans and 10% of independents agreed.
All told, 74% of Republicans and 39% of independents describe the current charges as “harassment” or “exaggerated,” compared to just 18% of Democrats.
More glaring demographic differences emerge when responses are broken down by race. A hefty 44% of white voters called the Trump charges “harassment/exaggerated,” compared to 29% of black Americans and 31% of hispanic Americans.
Why the big gaps in opinion? Might it be the difference in mainstream media coverage that Trump’s scandals get, versus the brewing scandals of his current main rival for the presidency, Joe Biden? There is some evidence for this.
Call it “A Tale of Two Scandals.”
As the Media Research Center (MRC) recently reported, on June 8 of this year Trump was indicted (one of three active indictments of Trump, with more possible) for alleged mishandling of classified documents. Meanwhile, on the very same day, it was reported that Joe Biden allegedly had taken $5 million from an executive with Ukraine-based energy giant Burisima, on whose board Joe Biden’s son Hunter sat.
We’ll let the MRC describe what happened next.
Over 39 days (June 8-morning of July 18) the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) broadcast networks crammed their evening, morning and Sunday roundtable shows with a total of 527 minutes of coverage dedicated to the Trump indictment. But how much did the Biden/Burisma alleged bribery scheme receive? Zero seconds.
So, despite the possible involvement in bribery, a felony and a clearly impeachable offense, the major networks didn’t expend even one minute to inform their viewers of the possible serious misconduct of the current president. But they did spend nearly nine hours on Trump’s charges.
The Biden bribery charges didn’t come out of the blue.
In early July, Sen. Charles Grassley released a letter showing that federal prosecutors and the FBI were notified “two weeks before the 2020 election that the FBI had allegations from an informant suggesting Joe Biden was involved in a bribery scheme involving Ukrainian business interests,” according to Just The News.
Yet, there was little to no curiosity about such a blockbuster revelation among the mainstream media. Instead, they noted that there was no concrete proof. “White House officials have said that many of the allegations lodged against Biden have either been unsupported by hard evidence or overreliant on non-credible sources,” as one media outlet reported in June.
Meanwhile, a House investigation by the House Oversight Committee claims it has evidence the Biden and his son Hunter may have taken in $40 million or more for the family and its business partners, with much of it laundered through 20 or so shell companies. The Bidens had business dealings with China, Russia and Ukraine, among others.
As Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer suggested two weeks ago, after getting possession of more of Biden’s financial records, “We’re working on a third memorandum. They will show transactions from Ukraine and Russia.”
So it may be that, as many suggest, that the media are saturated with Trump indictment news these days because hardly a week goes by without a new twist or development. And further developments in the Biden corruption probe may force more Big Media coverage.
Even with the media gaslighting on corruption allegations against the Biden family, it can be little comfort to president’s supporters that just under 40% of Americans believe the persistent and repeated charges leveled against Trump are seen as either “exaggerated” or political “harassment.”
I&I/TIPP publishes timely, unique, and informative data each month on topics of public interest. TIPP’s reputation for polling excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.
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