Almost a year has passed since the FBI swooped down on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, uncovering a cache of government documents—over a hundred of them marked as “classified.” It appears that over these months, Trump’s antics have started losing sheen with Republican voters.
This high-profile search and seizure operation resulted from the Department of Justice (DOJ) suspecting that Trump had pulled the wool over their eyes during an earlier subpoena. He claimed to have returned all classified documents that had been unceremoniously carted away from the White House—apparently, not quite the truth. An Economist/YouGov poll conducted right after the FBI’s surprise visit revealed that over half the Americans (54 percent) were not too pleased with Trump’s decision to clutch onto these documents post his presidency. However, 53 percent of Republican voters were in Trump’s corner, endorsing his controversial move.
Fast forward to the latest Economist/YouGov poll, conducted in the wake of Trump facing indictments over his document debacle and his attempts to block their rightful return to the U.S. government. The tide of Republican support seems to be turning. Now, a whopping 63 percent of Americans overall voice their disapproval of Trump’s cavalier actions, with a mere 24 percent showing approval. Among Republicans, the divide is palpable—40 percent expressed their disapproval, while 39 percent still back Trump’s handling of the government documents.
This shift showcases an 11-point rise in Republican voters’ disapproval rating for Trump’s reckless hoarding of government material, alongside a 14-point plunge in their approval of his actions.
Among Trump’s 2020 voters, the support drop-off is less drastic but still significant. Initially, 53 percent were on Trump’s side, with only 26 percent believing he was in the wrong. Today’s Economist/YouGov numbers indicate a cooling off—45 percent continue to support his actions, while 36 percent now view them unfavorably.
Considering how razor-thin the margins in the last two elections were, any decrease in support for Trump on this or any other issue could set alarm bells ringing for the 2024 GOP presidential frontrunner. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll from late last month found that 62 percent of voters believed that a serious criminal charge against Trump should render him ineligible for the presidency.
The U.S. Constitution does not preclude Trump from running for office, even if he were to be charged or convicted before the 2024 election. However, with such a high percentage of voters believing he should be disqualified, his path to a successful campaign may be difficult.
Trump now faces 37 counts of criminal wrongdoing connected to his retention of documents at Mar-a-Lago post-presidency. These charges include keeping sensitive government materials and obstructing DOJ and National Archives and Records Administration efforts to reclaim them. He pled not guilty via one of his lawyers in a Miami federal court.
The latest Economist/YouGov poll reveals that 52 percent of Americans feel the DOJ’s decision to charge Trump was right, with only 36 percent disapproving. It seems that while Trump’s dance with the law continues, his once-strong base is starting to question the tune.