What Americans think of the latest charges against Donald Trump

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
August 10, 2023, 10:35 PM GMT+0

Former President Donald Trump is facing four federal charges involving his purported efforts to retain power after the 2020 election and his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. New polling by the Economist/YouGov finds that Americans are divided in their views on the case. About half strongly or somewhat approve of the decision to charge Trump — including 86% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans — while 38% disapprove.

Slightly more Americans say Trump should be charged than say he should not (45% vs. 40%) — with Democrats overwhelmingly favoring the charges and Republicans overwhelmingly opposing them.

Half of Republicans (49%) say it is closer to their view that the January 6, 2021 events at the U.S. Capitol were legitimate political discourse, compared to 9% of Democrats. Most Democrats (77%) say it is closer to their view to call the takeover attempt a violent insurrection, compared to 31% of Republicans.

Many Americans don't think that Trump can get a fair trial in Washington, D.C., including 10% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans. Overall, about as many Americans say he can get a fair trial there (40%) as think he cannot (39%). As with many issues relating to Trump, Democrats and Republicans disagree. Most Democrats (69%) believe Trump can get a fair trial in D.C.; only 15% of Republicans say he can.

Fewer than half of Americans (44%) say it is very or somewhat likely that Trump will be convicted on any of the latest indictment’s four counts. Twice as many Democrats (62%) as Republicans (31%) say a conviction is likely in this case.

By 40% to 18%, Americans think Trump's legal representation has been very or somewhat good rather than very or somewhat bad. As many believe he is following the advice of his legal counsel very or somewhat closely (36%) as say he is following it not very or not at all closely (36%). About half of Republicans (52%) say Trump is following the legal advice he gets at least somewhat closely, compared to 27% of Democrats.

Fewer Americans overall now say there was a lot of voter fraud in the 2020 election (31%) than believed this right after the election (37%). Among Republicans, claims of there being a lot of fraud also have decreased, to 74% now saying this from 59% in November 2020.

Two-thirds of Republicans (65%) have only a little or no confidence that the 2020 election was held fairly, compared to 6% of Democrats. Three in four Democrats (76%) have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence it was; only 20% of Republicans do. One-third (36%) of Americans — including 4% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans — say that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election.

As they did last year, a majority of Americans (54%) now say that Trump really believes he won the 2020 election, while 27% think he doesn't really believe this. Republicans (76%) are far more likely than Democrats (35%) to think Trump believes he won the election.

Polling from last month showed that former Vice President Mike Pence receives little support for his campaign to win the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. In this week’s poll, about as many Republicans have a very or somewhat unfavorable opinion of Pence (45%) as have a very or somewhat favorable one (47%). Just prior to the 2020 election, more than three-quarters of Republicans were favorable toward Pence. Republican views on Pence have grown increasingly negative since the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack, when Pence refused to delay certification of a Biden victory.

In contrast, Trump’s ratings among Republicans are much higher than Pence’s, though not as high as they once were. Three in four Republicans have a favorable opinion of Trump, while 23% are unfavorable.

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on August 5 - 8, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (Julie Bennett)