Americans feel that the FBI’s actions have been harsher on Republicans and lenient towards Democrats. Further, Americans’ perception of the FBI reflects the deep polarization in the country.
Those are the key findings of a TIPP Poll of 1,277 Americans taken from Wednesday to Friday this week. The credibility interval for the online survey is +/- 2.8 points.
The poll asked Americans: “How would you rate the FBI’s action and treatment of the following?” Respondents were presented with seven cases:
- Hillary Clinton, related to the email server
- Donald Trump, related to documents
- Hunter Biden, related to laptop contents and business dealings
- Jan 6 rioters
- Antifa/BLM protesters of the summer of 2020
- Peter Navarro, former Trump White House adviser
- Roger Stone, political consultant
Participants used a graded scale to evaluate the FBI’s actions in the abovementioned cases. The scale used was Extremely harsh, Somewhat harsh, Just right, Somewhat lenient, Extremely lenient, Not sure, Not familiar.
Four out of every ten (39%) rated the FBI’s actions against former President Trump related to documents as harsh, while three in ten (29%) thought it was lenient. 20% said it was just right.
J6 rioters came in second for harshness, with 31% believing the FBI treated them harshly, followed by Peter Navarro at 28%.
Interestingly, both Hillary Clinton, related to the email server; and Hunter Biden, related to laptop contents and business dealings, received lenient ratings from 39%. Also, the FBI’s treatment of Antifa/BLM was seen as lenient by 35%.
The harsh ratings for Hillary Clinton were 23%, Antifa/BLM 24%, and Hunter Biden 19%.
In short, Americans see the FBI’s actions toward Republicans as harsh and Democrats as lenient.
We converted the raw data to an index score to facilitate easy comparison. The FBI Perception Index ranges from 0 to 100. A rating above 50 is harsh, and below 50 is lenient—the higher the number, the higher the harshness, and vice versa.
Overall, Trump takes the top spot with an index value of 55.0. Peter Navarro comes very close with 54.7. Roger stone gets 52.4, and J6 rioters get 51.5. With ratings above 50, Americans see the FBI’s actions against them as harsh.
Antifa got 42.1 on the index, followed by Hillary Clinton (40.2) and Hunter Biden (37.6). Being below 50, Americans see the FBI’s treatment of them as lenient.
Democrats believe that the FBI treated Hillary Clinton (57.2) harshly, followed by Hunter Biden (54.0) and BLM (53.8).
Interestingly, Democrats think the treatment of all Republicans is lenient. Trump (37.6) got the lowest score. Democrats rate the treatment of Roger Stone (42.9), Peter Navarro (42.5), and J6 rioters (39.3) by the FBI as lenient.
Reflecting the polarization, Republicans think the opposite of Democrats. Republicans think Trump (78.7), Navarro (72.3), J6 rioters (69.8), and Roger Stone (68.3) received harsh treatment, while BLM (27.5), Hillary Clinton (20.6), and Hunter Biden (19.4) were treated with kid’s gloves.
Interestingly, independents’ data look closer to Republican thinking though a bit muted. The noticeable difference was in their evaluation of J6 rioters who fell in the lenience category.
The chart below presents the indexes for 36 demographic groups. The above 50 (harsh) rating is highlighted in red. We can learn how universal a feeling is from this chart.
For example, 29 of the 36 demographic groups think President Trump was treated harshly. Similarly, 31 groups think Peter Navarro was mistreated.
Contrast this to only four for Hillary Clinton, five for Hunter Biden, and eight for BLM.
In summary, our data conclusively shows that the FBI suffers from a perception problem that is accentuated by the deep divisions in the country. The recent history, revealed via the Durham probe, that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant with false information and the timing of the FBI’s actions against President Trump support the narrative that the agency has been weaponized for political purposes.
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