Most Americans say voters should be able to decide Trump's eligibility

David MontgomerySenior data journalist
January 04, 2024, 9:53 PM GMT+0

More Americans say the voters should be able to make the decision about whether Donald Trump is eligible to run for president again than say the decision should be made by the courts or by Congress.

The Colorado Supreme Court and Maine's secretary of state both have ruled that Trump is ineligible to run for president again, under the 14th Amendment's clause that "No person shall… hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who… shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof." The two rulings cite Trump telling supporters at a January 6, 2021 rally to "walk down to the Capitol" and "fight like hell," after which crowds entered the U.S. Capitol.

The latest Economist/YouGov poll from December 31, 2023 - January 2, 2024 asked Americans whether voters, the courts, and Congress should be able to determine if Donald Trump should be able to run for president in 2024. Respondents could select multiple options. 62% of Americans said voters should be able to determine whether Trump runs again, including majorities of Democrats and Independents, and 75% of Republicans.

Fewer Americans — 42% — said the courts should be able to make that determination. That includes 55% of Democrats, but just 28% of Republicans.

Only 20% said Congress should be able to determine Trump's eligibility.

Many Americans who think voters should be able to decide also think the courts or Congress should have a say: 31% of those who think voters should decide also say the courts should be able to decide, and 21% say Congress should also be able to.

Americans are more likely to see the events of January 6 as people participating in "a violent insurrection" (50% of Americans) rather than as "legitimate political discourse" (31%). 19% don't know which view they hold. Among Americans who think Trump has no responsibility for the Capitol takeover, 66% regard it as legitimate discourse; only 5% regard it that way among Americans who say Trump has "a lot" of responsibility.

Democrats overwhelmingly label the January 6 events as a violent insurrection, by a margin of 74% to 14%. Independents say it was a violent insurrection by a margin of about two to one. But a majority of Republicans say the events of January 6 were legitimate political discourse: 56% say this, compared to 25% who say it was a violent insurrection.

— Carl Bialik contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on December 31, 2023 - January 2, 2024 among 1,521 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 3.3%.

Image: Getty