Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, is the focus of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into his alleged failure to pay taxes and register as a lobbyist for foreign governments. A recent New York Times article on the investigation reports that prosecutors are examining emails that the younger Biden appears to have left on a laptop that was recovered from a repair shop and seized by the FBI in 2019.
A YouGov poll conducted March 18 - 20 indicates that two-thirds of Americans (67%) have heard about investigations into Hunter Biden’s business dealings, and a similar share (65%) have heard about his recovered laptop. Many Americans believe they have not heard enough about Biden’s laptop, however: 36% say the national media is not focusing enough on his laptop, while just 21% say it is focusing too much on the laptop.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Republicans and 44% of Independents say the national media isn’t focusing enough on the laptop, compared to just 8% of Democrats. Only 2% of Republicans say the national media has focused too much on Biden’s laptop. Several conservative commentators recently have criticized national media outlets for how they covered the laptop story.
Asked whether Hunter Biden behaved unethically in several of his activities, more Americans say he did act unethically than say he didn’t when not paying federal taxes (51% to 13%), when lobbying for clients abroad (41% to 19%), and when pursuing business deals (40% to 24%). Between 71% and 77% of Republicans, in each case, say that Biden acted unethically. Democrats are less likely to say he acted unethically; more of them do about taxes, by a margin of 33% to 19%, than about business deals or lobbying.
In terms of the Justice Department investigation into Hunter Biden, 52% of Americans say they are unsure of whether it’s been fair or not. More Americans say it’s been fair than unfair, by 29% to 19%. Republicans (41%) are more likely than Democrats (26%) to say it’s been fair, though many in each group are uncertain.
It is unclear whether any of the investigations will lead to criminal charges against Hunter Biden, though most Americans (54%) believe he acted illegally in not paying federal taxes. Fewer people say he acted illegally when lobbying foreign clients (38%) or in his pursuit of business deals (37%).
Just 21% of Americans have a somewhat or very favorable view of Hunter Biden, compared to 49% who have a somewhat or very unfavorable view. That’s driven by his overwhelming unfavorability among Republicans: 84% are unfavorable toward him, with 5% favorable. One thing Democrats and Republicans agree on: “children of U.S. presidents get away with things
that other people do not because of their parent’s job,” “sometimes” or “always.” That view is shared by 72% of Americans, including 69% of Democrats and 82% of Republicans.
--Carl Bialik contributed to this story
Methodology: This U.S. News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between March 18 - 20, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as news interest and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 4% for the entire sample.