(NEW YORK) — A plurality of Americans think former President Donald Trump should have been charged by a Manhattan grand jury with a history-making indictment, yet a near equal amount believe that the charges against him are politically motivated, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.
According to the poll, 45% think Trump should have been charged with a crime in this case, whereas 32% don’t think so and 23% say they don’t know.
Democrats are, unsurprisingly, rallying behind the grand jury’s decision.
Almost nine in 10 Democrats (88%) think Trump should have been charged in the investigation by the Manhattan D.A., which has been probing a $130,000 hush money payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels who alleges the two had an affair. Trump has long denied these claims.
Compared with Democrats, Republicans are less united. While a majority, 62%, say that Trump should not have been charged, one in five Republicans say they “don’t know” and 16% say he should have been charged, per the ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel.
Independents see more of a split, with two in five saying he should have been charged, 32% saying he shouldn’t have been and 27% saying “don’t know.”
Big picture, half of Americans believe the charges are very or somewhat serious, while 36% say they are not too serious or not serious at all. A smaller portion, 14%, say they don’t know. Considered among party lines, 87% of Democrats say the charges are very (49%) or somewhat serious (38%), and six in 10 Republicans say the charges are not too serious (19%) or not serious at all (41%).
Some members of the public may be waiting to see what precisely the indictment is connected to or what specific charges Trump will face.
Former President Trump has been charged with around two dozen counts, including felonies, sources familiar with the sealed indictment told ABC News. The indictment will be unsealed when Trump appears in court in New York on Tuesday.
At the same time, a plurality of Americans (47%) say the charges against the former president are politically motivated, echoing the sentiment from top GOP figures. An even larger majority of Republicans, 79%, hold that view, as does a plurality of independents (48%).. As expected, 64% of Democrats take the opposite view, though a far cry from overwhelming opposition.
Even Trump’s potential own competitors dismiss the investigation as political theater.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is mulling a presidential bid himself, said the indictment is “offensive” and an “outrage.”
“I also think at a time when the American people are struggling so much, that this will only further serve to divide our country,” said Pence.
Speaking to ABC News, Trump himself called the indictment “political persecution” and “an attack on our country.”
Trump continues to be the front-runner for his party’s nomination among Republican primary voters. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who trails Trump in the polls despite not formally announcing his candidacy, said Saturday that the “law has been weaponized for political purposes.”
Only 43% of Americans think that Trump should suspend his campaign because of the indictment, while most (57%) either say it shouldn’t affect his bid (35%) or that they don’t know (22%).
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, has broken from the party line, telling ABC News that he believes Trump should terminate his campaign.
“I mean, first of all, the office is more important than any individual person. And so for the sake of the office of the presidency, I do think that’s too much of a sideshow and distraction and he needs to be able to concentrate on his due process and there is a presumption of innocence,” said Hutchinson.
Yet, many Americans are still keen that Trump should be charged for various other controversies in his orbit, with a plurality saying he should be charged for his handling of classified documents and his actions relating to the Capitol insurrection.
In addition, a slim majority (51%) say he should be charged for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Democrats are near unanimous in this view, with 90% believing he should be charged for his efforts to change the 2020 election results. Nearly half of all independents (49%) feel this way, but only 20% of Republicans agree.
Only 29% of Americans have a favorable view of Trump, but President Joe Biden’s favorability rating is similar at 32%. Both presidents see a drop from their approval in October 2020, when Trump saw a 35% favorability and Biden a 44% rating.
METHODOLOGY — This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted using Ipsos Public Affairs’ KnowledgePanel® March 31-April 1, 2023, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 593 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.4 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 26-25-40 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.
ABC News’ Dan Merkle, Ken Goldstein, Aaron Katersky, Katherine Faulders and John Santucci contributed to this report.
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