A new poll shared exclusively with Semafor finds that Donald Trump’s legal troubles could prove fatal in a general election.
The survey may carry extra weight for Democrats because it was conducted by Joel Benenson, the pollster for Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns.
It finds that 24% of Republicans say the charges make them less likely to vote for Trump against President Joe Biden — “more than enough to swing a close general election,” according to a memo accompanying the results.
The poll still finds Trump and Biden tied at the moment, at 46% a piece.
A small number of defections within the GOP could spell big trouble for Trump in a close race. And as of now, his support from his own party seems slightly softer than Biden’s: An AP-NORC poll this week finds that only 74% of Republicans would definitely or probably support Trump if he’s the nominee, versus 82% of Democrats who say the same for Biden.
“I’m not saying this is a slam dunk,” Benenson told me. “I’m saying that he is in a much weakened position than he was even compared to 2020, which is the election he lost.”
The Benenson Strategy Group isn’t the only pollster finding hints of discomfort about the indictments among a substantial minority of Republicans. A Reuters-Ipsos poll found that 20% of GOP voters didn’t believe the charges against Trump were politically motivated. (52% said they would decline to vote for Trump in 2024 if he were in prison on election day). A new Marist survey finds that 31% of GOP voters think Trump has too much baggage to lead the party.
Room for Disagreement
When push comes to shove, many Republicans who tell pollsters they find Trump’s actions repellent may vote for him anyway. As my colleague Benjy Sarlin put it in response to the AP’s new poll, some Republican voters “are lying to either pollsters or themselves.”