Prosecutors reinforced views on Trump conviction: POLL


Over half of Americans (58%) say Trump should have been convicted, which follows 56% who said the same thing last week before the Senate 57-43 voted to acquit, Trump left free to possibly run again. Last year, after Trump was acquitted in his first lawsuit against the Senate, Americans were evenly distributed on the result, with 49% approving the Senate’s ruling and 47% disapproving, according to a Monmouth University poll.

The Senate fell 10 votes to reach the 2/3 majority needed to rule, as all but seven Republicans did not find Trump guilty – a result that still marked the most bipartisan verdict ever in a presidential election.

The seven Republicans who make up 14% of the GOP conference in the Senate reflect the 14% of Republicans nationwide who believe Trump should have been convicted and prevented from holding future office in the vote, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC. News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel.

An overwhelming 88% of Democrats and 64% of independents also say the former president should have been convicted after being accused of his role in the deadly attack on the US capital on 6 January.

The decision by the 43 Republican senators to acquit Trump signals the firm grip he maintains over the party, even after his election defeat. But for some of them, the vote was not so much a defense of his behavior, but rather a decision based on a constitutional technicality.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the Republicans who eventually joined Trump by arguing that it was constitutional to try a former president, wiped out Trump for his “disgraceful exemption.”

“There is no doubt that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking today’s events. No question about that,” he said from the Senate floor shortly after the final vote. “The people who stormed this building thought they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”

Although far more Republican senators are disturbed by Trump’s actions than the final vote may show, polls suggest the Republican base remains solidly behind him.

Among Republicans, 86% say Trump should not have been convicted and disqualified from having the future office, a position shared by only 11% of Democrats and 35% of independents.

In fact, more than eight out of 10 Republicans (83%) go even further and believe the trial should not have even taken place, as the only charge against Trump was not serious enough to justify a prosecution.

This is a view that contradicts most of the country: Overall, 61% of Americans believe that Trump’s behavior justified the historic second accusation of a president, with 92% of Democrats and 65% of independents considering this view.

More than two decades ago, when former President Clinton faced his own indictment for lying under oath and obstructing justice to cover an extramarital affair, less than half (43%) of the country filed charges against him as serious enough for a trial, while a majority (56%) felt they were not serious enough, according to an ABC News poll conducted right after the trial.

As the nation remains deeply polarized, the unification of most Americans is of the view that the result in the Senate was more motivated by party loyalties than the evidence presented at trial.

More than 3 out of 4 Americans (77%) say that most senators voted on the basis of partisan politics. The issue also breaks through party lines, with 76% of Democrats, 78% of Republicans and 79% of independents saying the same.

In the case itself, the evidence presented by House impeachment managers was considered “strong” among a clear majority of Americans (56%) compared to 37% who describe it as “weak”.

Still, slightly more Americans say the lawsuit laundered information already known to the public instead of providing new information, 43% to 38%.

This ABC News / Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs’ KnowledgePanel® February 13-14, 2021 in English and Spanish among a random national sample of 547 adults. The results have a sampling margin of 4.8 points including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-26-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-Independent. See the poll’s topline results and details on the method here.

ABC News’ Dan Merkle and Ken Goldstein contributed to this report.

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