The nation crossed the Rubicon with Alvin Bragg’s indictment of President Trump.
One in two (51%) thinks indicting a former President of the United States would do long-lasting harm to the country. Even 50% of Democrats agree. Those are the key findings of a Golden/TIPP Poll of 1,365 Americans nationwide completed on Friday. TIPP conducted the online survey from March 29 to 31. Trump indictment news broke on Thursday(*) evening.
The survey’s credibility interval (CI) is +/- 2.8 percentage points. It means the study is accurate to within ± 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Americans been surveyed.
The survey asked the respondents, “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the statement: Indicting a former President of the United States does long-lasting harm to the country?” The results tallied as follows:
- 30% Agree strongly
- 21% Agree somewhat
- 11% Disagree somewhat
- 23% Disagree strongly
- 14% Not sure
Interestingly, even half of the Democrats also acknowledge the long-term impact. By party, 50% of Democrats, 63% of Republicans, and 42% of independents recognize the lasting impact.
Meanwhile, social media chatter anecdotally confirms our findings and explains the impact on the country.
We don't have any hard data from tweet trends since Trump's indictment this week. But if an unscientific scan of Twitter comments represents public sentiment, the Manhattan grand jury and DA Alvin Bragg's criminal indictment of the 45th president is hugely unpopular.
Let's state the obvious disclaimers first. It is still too early. The tweet data is not statistically sampled. The proud Left that dominated Twitterverse under the Agrawal-Roth-Gadde regime has taken a back seat since Elon Musk's takeover, making way for more Trump supporters on the platform. Under a more relaxed code, many tweets that were previously suppressed are getting through the filters. Trump has limited his comments and cleverly played victim, but the pulse may change once he goes on the attack as he always does.
Michael Smerconish, who hosts his CNN show on Saturdays on a network known for its leftward tilt, supposedly switched his party registration from the GOP to Independent in 2010. His conclusion? Trump was indicted because he is running. Liberal attorney but free speech advocate Alan Dershowitz said on Fox News that "they have made a foolish, foolish decision which will cause the case to be thrown out." Both comments were widely tweeted.
Tulsi Gabbard, the former Congresswoman from Hawaii who famously took down Kamala Harris on the Democratic debate stage while both were running for their party's nomination in 2020, tweeted that the indictment was a "despicable, extremely dangerous turning point for our country."
Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi proved that as the most senior lawmaker in the Democratic Party until this January, she needed to sit in a high school civics class. She tweeted:
"The Grand Jury has acted upon the facts and the law. No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence. Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right."
There was just one problem: she had it all backwards. In America, people are deemed innocent until the prosecution proves they are guilty. Even the generally liberal lawyers at Cornell University added this context that Twitter published right under her tweet.Twitter lit up with numerous conservatives - Ted Cruz, Sebastian Gorka, Larry Elder, Dinesh D'Souza, Bo Snerdley - all pointing out her egregious error.
Leftist comedian Bill Maher, who warned Bragg not to indict Trump on his show last week, did not dwell on the merits of the indictment this week. Instead, he said: "I always ask myself the question, 'What is actually better for the future of the country and my future?' Because I don't want to live in a country where we are one of these places where whoever is President, as soon as they get out of office, they go after them....And I guarantee you that when Biden is out of office, on Day Two, they will try to arrest him." Thousands of people tweeted or retweeted this comment indicating that Americans are anxious that political persecution will become increasingly commonplace in the world's oldest democracy.
Independent journalist Lara Logan, formerly of CBS News, tweeted thoughts similar to Maher: "They just broke with precedent to go after a political rival in the midst of a presidential campaign, opening the door to be indicted themselves."
A Twitter user pointed out that Andrea Mitchell, one of the most liberal MSNBC commentators, called out Congressman Adam Schiff for fundraising shamelessly for his Senate campaign off the Trump indictment. Many others noted that the Trump campaign collected over $4 million in just 24 hours. Even Stormy Daniels, the porn star who is a crucial player in the indictment, attempted to profit by pushing her merchandise and autograph orders. Her tweet garnered 5.7 million views, including comments that expressed horror that she was milking this for gain.
Former Trump cabinet officials, including VP Pence, seemed critical of Bragg. Even former AG William Barr, who broke with Trump after the 2020 election in insisting that there was no vote fraud, called the indictment an abomination and one that was based on a "pathetically weak" legal theory. His comments on Fox News were also widely tweeted. Mick Mulvaney, Trump's acting Chief of Staff, went on Bloomberg TV to say that the Democrats are scared of the indictment. Twitter lit up with liberals vowing not to watch CBS anymore. CBS recently hired Mulvaney as a contributor.
One Twitter user turned to C-Span and reported that callers to the show were furious about the indictment. Most replies to the tweet tended to agree with him.
The indictment is yet to be officially unsealed. When this occurs, we expect to see more clarity in how Twitterati responds. But thus far, Trump seems to be winning in the court of public opinion.
James Golden, aka Bo Snerdley, is the former producer of the Rush Limbaugh Show. You can listen to James on WABC 770 AM on weekdays from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays.
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*Correction: President Trump was indicted on Thursday evening. The original article stated Wednesday.