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Nearly Half Of Dems Say Charges Against Trump Are Politically Motivated: I&I/TIPP Poll

Some 72% of GOP primary voters say they would vote for the former president even if convicted.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

With less than a year to go in the presidential election cycle, most Americans almost always have a good idea of who will be running for president, and who won’t. That’s especially true when an incumbent president is eligible for reelection. As this month’s I&I/TIPP Poll demonstrates, that’s not the case this time around.

With less than a year to go in the presidential election cycle, most Americans almost always have a good idea of who will be running for president, and who won’t. That’s especially true when an incumbent president is eligible for reelection. As this month’s I&I/TIPP Poll demonstrates, that’s not the case this time around.

While both of the main parties’ likely candidates — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump — have healthy leads against potential competitors within their own parties in virtually all polls, it’s still not clear that either will even be on the ballot next year.

The media are full of stories that cite Democratic Party sources and contributors suggesting that the 81-year-old president, who has shown signs of age-related mental impairment in recent years, should drop out of the running. The complaints have become increasingly urgent as Biden’s presidential favorability readings have plunged sharply.

Meanwhile, Trump faces an unprecedented legal assault, with four separate indictments covering 91 allegations of criminal behavior on his part. In normal times, that would be a political disaster.

To better gauge national sentiment, the national online I&I/TIPP Poll asked 1,301 registered voters this month a number of questions related to the upcoming primary election season. The poll, taken from Nov. 29-Dec. 1, has a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points.

Of Trump, I&I/TIPP asked two key questions.

First: “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the statement: The Democratic Party is using the law to try to prevent Trump from running in the 2024 election.”

This is a big topic of discussion, both inside the Beltway and outside, despite mainstream media efforts to downplay the issue by calling Trump a “threat to democracy.”

Voters aren’t buying it.

Among all voters, 60% agreed that the unprecedented legal charges against Trump were politically driven by the Democratic Party, while 31% disagreed.

What’s surprising isn’t that majorities of Republicans (81% “agree,” 13% “disagree”) and independents (53% “agree,” 35% “disagree”) see eye-to-eye, but that a plurality of Democrats (49% “agree,” 44% “disagree”) also believe the prosecutions are politically motivated.

With court actions scheduled for the primary season, it is quite possible that Americans could have a first of sorts: A former president convicted of a serious crime even as he runs for the office he once held.

So what if Trump is convicted of one of the four indictments he faces?

To cover that, I&I/TIPP asked a second question, this including only Republicans and independent voters who lean Republican: “How likely are you to vote for Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary if he is convicted of any crimes?”

Some 72% of GOP followers say it’s either “very likely” (53%) or “somewhat likely” (19%) that they would vote for the former president. Just 22% say it’s either “not very likely” (9%) or “not at all likely” (13%).

There’s some difference between those who are registered Republicans and those independents who usually vote Republican.

Among registered GOPers, 76% say it’s likely that they’ll vote for Trump even if he’s convicted, versus just 20% who say it’s unlikely. Meanwhile, 63% of independents agree they’ll likely vote for him, compared to 29% who say it’s unlikely.

With a margin of error of +/-4.2 percentage point among Republican voters, that means there’s a solid consensus that views the current legal onslaught against Trump as essentially political in nature. But even if convicted, he’ll still command a strong majority of his current support.

Biden has a 61% share of the vote among Democratic Party voters and independent supporters in the upcoming primaries, exactly equal to Trump’s 61% share of the Republican side.

But there’s a huge difference: Amid growing signs of Biden’s age-related mental issues and clear evidence that Biden, son Hunter and other members of his family profited from foreign governments during his time as vice president, Biden is facing growing pressure from within his own party to step aside.

Media reports show Democrat insiders are “concerned” about Biden’s age and plunging favorability ratings, and a lack of a “Plan B” should he decide to drop out.

“Democrats nervous about the president’s low approval ratings, and recent national polling showing him trailing or within the margin of error of Donald Trump in a potential rematch, have begun sounding the alarm about what they see as the lack of urgency on the part of Biden’s team,” NBC News reported earlier this month.

Unfazed by growing calls to drop out, Biden last week said: “If Trump wasn’t running, I’m not sure I’d be running. But we cannot let him win, for the sake of the country.”

But when asked later if there was any other Democrat besides him who could defeat Trump, he responded: “Probably 50 of them.” Given his many problems, including now being the least-popular president in modern history, it’s no great shock that many within his own party want him to step down.

Which leaves open the question: Who would be favored among Democrats if he did?

We asked Democrats and those who lean Democratic in their voting the following question: If "President Biden decides not to run in 2024, who would be your top choice for the Democratic candidate?”

The simple, non-numerical answer is: No one.

The results: Former First Lady Michelle Obama, 19%: current Vice President Kamala Harris, 18%; socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 12%; California Gov. Gavin Newsom, 9%; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 7%; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 6%; Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, 5%.

Interestingly, Harris, the top replacement contender in November, dropped to second place in December, losing eight points, while Michelle Obama gained nine points in December and took the top spot.

No other Democrat got more than 2%. But “not sure” (15%) and “someone else” (4%) remain large. With a +/-4.1 percentage point margin of error among likely Democratic voters, no non-Biden candidate has emerged as a clear leader.

But that doesn’t mean that someone with a long record of populist-leftist activism and a magical family name couldn’t come in and gobble up lots of Democratic votes in the general election.

That exactly describes independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who no doubt is giving Democratic Party regulars some sleepless nights. But for the record, should both Biden and Trump see it through to the end, Trump currently has a two-percentage-point lead over Biden in both the RealClearPolitics polling average and the I&I/TIPP Poll.

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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