Polls Show Trump Looming Large over GOP Primary Field, Despite Indictments
Former President Donald J. Trump is dominating the GOP primary field, according to several polls. A Wall Street Journal survey published Saturday shows that Trump is the top presidential pick for 59% of Republican voters, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in second place at 13%. None of the other Republican contenders polled higher than single digits.
This follows an Economist/YouGov poll showing Trump at 51% among Republicans and DeSantis at 14%. Both surveys also found that if Trump weren’t running, DeSantis would be the likely Republican second choice, with The Wall Street Journal poll placing the Sunshine State governor at 35% support as a second choice and the Economist/YouGov poll placing him at 28%. Both polls also showed Trump as the Republican nominee beating incumbent Joe Biden, though not by a wide margin.
Trump is, of course, currently engaged in several legal battles, most stemming from his claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulently tampered with. The former president has multiple criminal charges and four indictments leveled against him, and at least one major criminal trial looming. The most recent indictment stems from alleged election interference in Georgia. Trump and 18 others — including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — were arrested in Fulton County last month after voluntarily turning themselves in, yielding Trump’s now-famous mugshot, the first taken in connection with any of the four indictments. Trump and his allies have been released on bail.
But according to The Wall Street Journal, most Republicans see the indictments as politically-motivated persecution. All Republican respondents said they were aware of the indictments, with 87% responding that they were following news of the indictments. Regarding Trump’s alleged “hush money” payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels, 79% of Republicans said the indictment was politically motivated, with 61% saying the case had no merit.
Eighty-one percent of Republicans said the indictment against Trump for allegedly taking classified government documents when leaving the White House was politically motivated, with 67% saying the case had no merit. Eighty percent of Republicans classified the indictment against Trump for allegedly attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results as politically motivated, with 70% saying the case had no merit. And a stunning 82% of Republicans said the Georgia indictment is politically motivated, with 71% saying the case has no merit.
As many pundits have noted, the indictments against Trump are unprecedented, as no former U.S. president has ever been indicted after leaving the Oval Office. But the criminal charges against Trump have only made Republicans more likely to vote for him. Forty-eight percent of Republican voters told The Wall Street Journal the indictments have made them more likely to vote for Trump, with 36% saying the indictments have had no effect on how they plan to vote, and a paltry 16% saying the indictments have made them less likely to vote for Trump. Furthermore, a whopping 78% of Republicans said that Trump’s actions after the 2020 election “were a legitimate effort to make sure votes were tallied accurately.” Only 16% said Trump’s actions were an “illegal” attempt to interfere in a legitimately-conducted election.
Despite his popularity among Republicans, several Democrats are attempting to keep Trump off the 2024 ballot, arguing that a Civil War-era clause in the 14th Amendment prohibits Trump from holding office again for having allegedly “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has even stated that Trump doesn’t need to be convicted of insurrection or rebellion for the clause to apply.
However, when a Florida lawyer filed a lawsuit to bar Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg dismissed the case. The lawsuit alleged that Trump was an insurrectionist, citing the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and was thus unfit to hold office. Without addressing the constitutional question, Obama-appointed Rosenberg tossed the case out on lack of standing, arguing that the plaintiffs could not show they had been in any way harmed by the events at the Capitol and stating that “an individual citizen does not have standing to challenge whether another individual is qualified to hold public office.”
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.