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Voters Split On Whether Charges Against Trump Are 'Warranted, Based On Facts': I&I/TIPP Poll

Warranted or unfair?

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash

Saturation coverage of President Trump's legal woes by the media have convinced a plurality of Americans that the four felony charges against the former chief executive are both "warranted" and "based on facts." But a closer look at the results of March's I&I/TIPP Poll shows much of that sentiment on this issue comes mainly from one side of the political divide: Democrats.

The national online I&I/TIPP Poll, taken from Feb. 28 to March 1, posed the following question to 1,419 registered voters across the nation: "Over the past year, former President Trump has faced four major indictments totaling 91 separate charges of criminal behavior. Based on what you know or understand, do you believe the unprecedented legal actions are..."

Voters were given four possible responses: First, "warranted, based on the facts;" second, "unfair, and intended to undermine the presidential election;" third, "not sure;" and fourth, "none of the above."

How did they respond? Some 47% said the charges were "warranted" and fact-based, while 38% called the charges "unfair" and agreed they were meant to undermine the 2024 presidential election. The responses have a margin of error of +/-2.7 percentage points.

Case closed? Do Americans want Trump to face a series of potentially politically-crippling trials involving a lengthy list of charges that have all emerged within the last two years, following Trump's decision to run again for president?

Not exactly. Let's start with March's data. While 47% believe the charges are valid, another 14% say they're not sure, while 2% say "none of the above." So, in fact, a slight majority of 52% either believe the charges are both unfair and political or aren't sure.

It narrows further when political affiliation comes into play. A solid 76% of Democrats agree Trump's getting what he deserves from the justice system, while only 12% say call his treatment unfair and politically motivated. Another 11% aren't sure.

That compares to 17% of Republicans who call Trump's charges warranted, versus 69% who believe they're unfair. The similar number for independents is a plurality of 45% saying warranted and 35% calling them unfair, while 19% says they aren't sure.

There's another interesting split in public opinion between white and minority Americans. White Americans break evenly on whether Trump's treatment is fair, 44% to 44%. Black and Hispanic Americans have a different view, with half (50%) saying his treatment is "warranted," and just 28% saying the Trump charges are political.

All in all, given the nonstop negative coverage of Trump, present since the very start of his presidential political career in 2016, it's little wonder that many Americans would suspect Trump of illegal behavior.

As reported earlier, in the same I&I/TIPP Poll, 62% of those responding said that the Department of Justice had been "more lenient toward President Biden than toward President Trump" in handling allegations against both for allegedly mishandling classified documents. Just 24% said they felt the DOJ had been more lenient toward Trump than Biden.

More damning still, 57% of Americans who followed the story closely said they thought Biden should have been charged with crimes for mishandling secret documents by former Special Counsel Robert Hur.

Currently, many of the investigations and criminal charges against Trump appear to be having serious difficulties.

For one, the Georgia election interference case against Trump remains questionable. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is remaining on the case, even after a judicial investigation of serious conflicts within her office found a "significant appearance of impropriety that infects the current structure of the prosecution team.”

No matter the result of Willis' prosecution, Trump will have powerful grounds for legal appeal or delay of what most Americans believe is an illegitimate political prosecution.

Moreover, the Supreme Court has taken up Trump's effort to have federal charges against him for trying to overturn the 2020 election's results dismissed due to rules that limit the Justice Department's ability to bring charges against a legal immunity he had during his presidency.

The rule in question states

Federal prosecutors and agents may never select the timing of any action, including investigative steps, criminal charges, or statements, for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.

And, finally, reports from the ongoing Trump trial in Florida say that Judge Aileen Cannon questioned why Trump was the only president ever tried for mishandling classified documents. In particular, despite President Biden's holding classified materials for more than three decades while serving as both senator and vice president, Special Prosecutor Robert Hur refused to charge Biden.

“Even with other former presidents, there was never a situation remotely similar to this one,” prosecutor Jay Bratt responded to Cannon, according to CNN.

Given obvious issues of political meddling which are prominent in all four of the cases brought against Trump, major questions arise: Can any of the charges stand up to later appeals, including to the Supreme Court? And will conviction for any of these, with possible prison time, be enough to have Trump removed from the ballot?

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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