Did the Aug. 8 raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida home damage his electoral chances for 2024 and those of the Republican Party in the upcoming midterm elections? Data from the recent I&I/TIPP Poll suggest the answer is no.
First of all, comparison data from the I&I/TIPP Polls (one taken of 1,182 registered voters online from August 2-4, the other of 1,145 voters from September 7-9) show that those who thought the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-A-Lago estate would badly tarnish his image in the public eye and damage his future prospects were likely wrong.
For both months, the I&I/TIPP Poll asked voters of both major parties and independents three identical questions: Of Democrats, the poll asked “If the Democratic Presidential primary were held today, who would you vote for?” The same question was asked of Republicans.
The poll also asked: “What is your preference for the outcome of this November’s congressional elections?”
On the presidential primary question, there was little change from month to month, particularly when the +/- 2.9 percentage point margin of error for both polls is considered.
In August, just 30% of Democrats said they would vote for President Joe Biden. He was followed by former First Lady Michelle Obama at 10%, Vice President Kamala Harris and Sen. Bernie Sanders both at 8%, former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton at 5%, California Gov. Gavin Newsom at 6% and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at 4%.
In September, Biden stood at 34%, Obama at 11%, Harris at 10%, Bernie Sanders at 7%, Hillary Clinton at 5%, Buttigieg at 4%, and Newsom at 4%.
What do the numbers say about Trump, who, between those two polls, endured the FBI’s raid, which has no precedent in U.S. history?
In August, 53% of Republicans said they would vote for Trump. In September, that number rose to 54%, a small gain. But Trump has a majority of his party, while Biden barely ekes out a third of the Democrats.
And, the important point, he lost nothing from the Mar-A-Lago raid. If anything, he gained support, while other potential challengers slipped.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who received 17% in the August poll, dipped to 15% in September, while former Vice President Mike Pence dropped from 10% to 8%. No other GOP challenger received more than 2% in September.
Biden, meanwhile, is weak across the board within his own constituency, the Democrats. He garners just 28% of women’s votes, 33% of the black/Hispanic vote, 28% of independents, and just 30% of self-described moderates and 34% of liberals, the two ideological constituencies that form the backbone of the broader Democratic coalition.
Trump, by comparison, in September gets 56% of women, 44% of blacks and Hispanics, and 48% of independents. He wins 59% from conservatives and 44% of moderates, the two mainstays of the GOP. No other candidate is within single digits of Trump’s support, no matter the demographic category.
How about the midterm elections?
In September, 48% said they would prefer Congress controlled by the Democrats, compared to 46% for the Republicans. With a +/-2.9 point margin of error, that’s essentially a tossup. In August, the comparable numbers were tied, 46% to 46%.
But there are warning signs for Democrats. For one, 59% of women and 49% of men say they would prefer Republicans to control Congress, and 40% of Hispanics lean toward Republicans, compared to 52% leaning toward Democrats. While Dems still have a lead among Hispanics, that crucial demographic has become far more favorable toward Republicans in recent years.
Taken as a whole, the polls show clearly that Mar-A-Lago has done little apparent to affect how voters see the upcoming election. If anything, it has made Trump slightly more popular.
What’s also clear is that the federal raid against Trump has led to bitter political divisions over the aggressive nature of action and what appeared to many its partisan nature. And it has perhaps irreparably damaged the institutional reputations of both the Department of Justice and the FBI.
Meanwhile, Americans have other things on their mind when it comes to the upcoming midterm elections, as other recent public opinion surveys clearly show.
An early September Harvard CAPS / Harris poll, taken roughly at the same time as the I&I/TIPP Poll, asked: “Do you think that President Biden is fairly raising issues around MAGA Republicans, or is the President trying to avoid talking about inflation, immigration, crime, and other issues?”
Among those responding, 59% said Biden is avoiding talking about inflation, immigration, crime, and other issues, while just 41% said he was fairly raising issues about MAGA Republicans.
Of perhaps greater concern for Democrats is that 69% of independents, the traditional electoral swing voters, agreed that Biden’s dodging key issues.
Getting at the political and cultural zeitgeist, another poll, this from the Trafalgar Group, asked Americans bluntly: “Do you feel as safe in America today as you did 2 years ago?”
The answer was a resounding 68% “no,” 27% “yes.”
The poll also asked: “How likely would you be to vote for a candidate who supports policies which prevent police from detaining criminals charged with violent crimes, such as kidnapping and armed robbery?”
Some 95.6% of those surveyed said they would not be likely to vote for such a candidate, versus 4.5% who said they would. “Defund the police” and radical district attorneys in major cities across America may end up costing the Democrats dearly in November.
Each month, the I&I/TIPP polling collaboration publishes data on this topic and others of broad public interest. TIPP’s reputation for excellence comes from being the most accurate pollster for the past five presidential elections.
Terry Jones is an editor of Issues & Insights. His four decades of journalism experience include serving as national issues editor, economics editor, and editorial page editor for Investor’s Business Daily.