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2024 independent voters and the Trump indictments: What they think

By Lee Cleveland - August 27, 2023

An overwhelming majority of Americans—including, crucially, nearly two-thirds of independents—want former President Donald Trump to stand trial in the Justice Department’s 2020 election case before the 2024 election.

A Politico Magazine/Ipsos poll surveyed 1,032 Democratic, Republican, and independent adults between August 18 and August 21, a period slightly less than three weeks after special counsel Jack Smith indicted the former president in a criminal investigation into Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

The poll, released Friday, was conducted just days after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis indicted Trump and 18 others for their election meddling in Georgia.

The results show a marked uptick in seeing Trump stand trial before the 2024 election, demonstrating the severity and magnitude of the latest charges and complicating the former president’s insistent claims that criminal indictments only boost his political prospects.

But, back to Independents….

In June, a Politico/Ipsos poll asked a similar scheduling question after Trump’s classified documents indictment in Florida, and just 48 percent of independents said they wanted to see a trial before the election.

Now, it’s 63 percent.

On Monday, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan will hold a scheduled hearing on the federal case. Smith’s office is requesting a January 2, 2024 trial date, while Trump’s lawyers are asking the trial to be scheduled in 2026. If Trump secures a post-election trial date and wins the presidential election, he’ll have the opportunity to pardon himself in the DOJ case (though not in Georgia).

The poll also provides a window into how Trump’s response to his various indictments may—or may not—be landing with independent voters, a crucial voting block. Per Pew Research, roughly one-third (34%) of the electorate who identified as independent or with another party in 2016 divided their votes about evenly (43% Trump, 42% Clinton).

Also, in the aforementioned Politico Magazine/Ipsos poll, more than half of respondents—including 56% of independents—said the Trump DOJ had improperly investigated political opponents. When asked about the behavior of various players in criminal cases, respondents gave Trump the worst favorability rating of all: net negative by 31 points.

The DOJ and Smith came out with net favorable ratings, while Attorney General Merrick Garland notched an even split.

Additionally, the poll also shows a marked lack of public knowledge about the case, with between roughly one-quarter and one-third of the respondents reporting that they do not understand the charges very well. As the cases unfold and new information becomes public, Trump’s numbers might considerably worsen.

As for what voters would like the outcome of the cases to be, half of the poll’s respondents said they thought Trump should go to prison if convicted in the DOJ’s January 6 case. That number included 51 percent of independents.

Independent voters will likely determine the winner of next year’s 2024 Presidential Election. And if you’re Trump, you’ll want to be at least on par with President Biden in this demographic.

Given 63 percent of independents want to see a trial before the election while 56 percent insist the the DOJ’s investigation is appropriate and 51 percent actually want to see Trump behind bars if convicted, Number 45 appears to be far less popular among independents than was the case in 2016.


Tags: Donald Trump, Elections 2024