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On Trump indictments, polls tell GOP what it doesn’t want to hear

With Democrats largely steering clear of the political fight over Donald Trump’s indictments, would Americans believe GOP talking points? Apparently not.


In the wake of Donald Trump’s four criminal indictments, a variety of Republicans have suggested that the public would “see through” prosecutors’ efforts and reject the indictments’ legitimacy. The “American people,” assorted GOP voices have said, will side with the former president.

There’s fresh evidence pointing in the opposite direction. From the latest national polling report from Quinnipiac University.

In the wake of a federal indictment accusing former President Donald Trump of attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, Americans 54 — 42 percent think Trump should be prosecuted on criminal charges, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University national poll released today.

Tim Malloy, a Quinnipiac polling analyst, explained, “Not only do a large majority of Americans regard the federal charges as serious, more than half of Americans think the former president should face prosecution.”

Not surprisingly, the partisan gaps were enormous — 95% of Democrats think Trump should be criminally prosecuted for his post-defeat efforts, 85% of Republicans do not — but the survey results found that independents are not siding with the former president: By a 57%-to-37% margin, Quinnipiac found independent voters agreeing that Trump should be prosecuted.

The top-line results do not appear to be an outlier: The latest poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which was conducted shortly before this week’s Fulton County indictment, also found that 53% of Americans “approve of the Justice Department indicting Trump over his efforts to remain in office after losing the 2020 election.”

This comes on the heels of related polling from June, which also found a narrow majority of Americans supporting the criminal charges against Trump in his classified documents case.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, these results were hardly inevitable. In fact, I wasn’t necessarily expecting them. For the better part of a year, there’s been a noticeable asymmetry to the public conversation: One side of the political divide has flooded the airwaves with vitriol, insisting an indictment would be proof of a corrupt Justice Department and an unjust system, while the other side has been largely circumspect, saying very little about the suspect, the process, and his alleged crimes.

Given this, Americans have generally only heard one side of the argument. As Republicans have screamed bloody murder in defense of Trump, Democrats have largely responded with “Anyone want to talk about infrastructure and the importance of reproductive rights?”

Indeed, it’s no secret that the Biden White House made a deliberate decision to stay silent — and the party directed congressional Democrats to bite their tongues, too.

With only one side of the political divide engaged in the public conversation, it seemed plausible that much of the public would believe GOP talking points, despite their absurdities, because it was the only rhetoric Americans were hearing.

And yet, despite this asymmetry, the polling evidence suggests the public didn’t buy what Republicans were selling after Trump’s first indictment, or his second indictment, and GOP rhetoric isn’t proving persuasive in the wake of his latest indictments, either.

This post updates our related earlier coverage.