Most US voters now say Trump should not be allowed to serve as president again

Given “what we know about the ongoing investigations into Donald Trump,” a narrow majority of registered voters (51%) now believe he should not “be allowed to serve as president again in the future,” according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.

Just 35% of voters say Trump should be allowed to serve again. The rest (14%) are unsure.

The survey of 1,566 US adults was conducted from Sept. 23 to 27, immediately after New York state Attorney General Letitia James filed a sweeping lawsuit that accused Trump and three of his children of fraudulently overvaluing his assets by billions of dollars “to obtain beneficial financial terms” — one of several recent legal setbacks for the former president, who also faces potential charges for election interference in Georgia and for taking highly classified documents to Mar-a-Lago.

Trump at a rally in Wilmington, NC, Sept. 23. (Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

As such, it may reflect the cumulative effect of Trump’s mounting legal woes. Previous Yahoo News/YouGov polls asked whether Trump should be allowed to serve again in various scenarios, such as “if he were found guilty of mishandling highly classified documents” or “if he were found guilty of obstructing the [Justice Department’s] investigation.”

But this was the first to ask voters to consider whether various ongoing state and federal investigations, taken together, had already revealed enough wrongdoing to disqualify Trump from another term as president (regardless of whether he’s ever found guilty).

Most voters say yes.

That’s hardly the strongest position from which to launch a re-election bid — something Trump is preparing to do later this year or early next, by most accounts.

Even so, the new Yahoo News/YouGov poll wasn’t all bad news for the former president. Three weeks ago, President Biden held a 6-point lead over Trump (48% to 42%) in a hypothetical head-to-head 2024 rematch — the Democrat’s largest advantage in months. In the latest survey, Biden’s margin has shrunk to 2 percentage points (47% to 45%).

Yet while Trump remains as competitive as ever in a general-election context — where partisanship matters most — the new poll also suggests his standing among Republican voters may be softening somewhat.

In the immediate aftermath of the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8, the GOP appeared to rally around Trump; preference for the former president (54%) over “someone else” (33%) in a theoretical 2024 primary match-up rose overnight among registered voters who identify as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents (from 48%-39% previously).

A police officer in front of Mar-a-Lago.

A law enforcement officer in front of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Fla., on Aug. 9. (Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images)

But Trump’s “Mar-a-Lago bump” is now gone. In the new Yahoo News/YouGov survey, 2024 primary support for him among Republicans and Republican leaners has fallen by 7 points (to 47%) while support for someone else has risen by 3 (to 36%). Another 17% say they’re not sure.

Fewer than half of Republican voters, in other words, favor the former president for the party’s 2024 nomination. When pitted against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, his likeliest rival for the nod, Trump does little better, garnering 47% to DeSantis’s 34%.

As for the New York state civil lawsuit, it’s unlikely to change perceptions of Trump all by itself. Just 27% of Americans say they’ve heard “a lot” about it, while another 34% say they’ve heard “some.” The rest say they’ve heard “a little” (20%) or “none” (19%).

Perhaps as a result, fewer Americans think Trump “inflated the value of his business assets by billions of dollars” (44%) than said three weeks ago that he “took highly classified documents with him to Mar-a-Lago” (49% ). The partisan divide also explains a lot: 83% of 2020 Biden voters and 72% of Democrats believe Trump inflated his business assets by billions of dollars; only 10% of 2020 Trump voters and 12% of Republicans agree.

Similarly, Americans are split — largely along partisan lines — over whether the New York lawsuit is motivated by a “genuine desire to hold Trump and his family accountable” (41%) or “a political bias against Trump and his family” (39% ).

Trump supporters during a recent rally in Youngstown, Ohio.

Trump supporters during a rally with the former president in Youngstown, Ohio, Sept. 17. (Dustin Franz/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

That said, more than 6 in 10 (62%) say that if Trump “committed business fraud,” he “should be prosecuted” — a number that includes a plurality of Republicans (39%). However, only 44% of Americans say he should be charged with a crime “given what we know about the ongoing investigations.” Another 25% say they’re not sure, while 31% say he should not be charged.

But there is room for James and prosecutors to make their case. In early April, 45% of Americans told Yahoo News and YouGov they thought Trump had “committed a serious crime” at some point in his life. Today that number is 50%. The share of Americans who think he has never committed a serious crime, meanwhile, has fallen from 30% to 27%.

Whether Trump will ever be convicted is another story. Given what we know today, just 27% of Americans believe the former president will ultimately “be found guilty of a crime.” More — 36% — do not.

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The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,566 US adults interviewed online from Sept. 23 to Sept. 27, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 presidential vote (or nonvote) and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.7%.

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