Former President Donald Trump continues to strongly suggest he will run for president in 2024, but a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll shows middle voters don’t want him to try again.
Sixty-seven percent of independents said they didn’t want Trump running again, while only 28% said they did. In 2020, Trump lost independents and lost the election. In 2016, Trump fared better with the group, but throughout his presidency and after, he suffered with them and never found them.
“I think we need someone who can start to unite the country,” said survey participant Mike Helms, 68, of Lincolnton, North Carolina, an independent who voted for Trump in 2020. “I don’t think he or [President] Biden can unite this country.”
Trump has remained wildly unpopular outside of his base, raising questions about the strength of a Trump 2024 candidacy. People who live in big cities and women in suburban areas continue to be two of the groups most opposed to Trump, while white evangelical Christians, whites without a college degree, and those in rural areas are the most supportive.
“I definitely don’t want him to run because he will split the Republican Party and give the Democrats the vote,” said Greg Cox, 54, of New Haven, Mo., another independent who voted for Trump in 2020.
Overall, 61% of survey respondents said they did not want Trump to run again, largely unchanged from just after the 2020 election that Trump lost. A lot has happened since then, and it shows just how locked in Americans’ views on Trump are.
In fact, when respondents were asked if they would like Trump to run again, even if he is accused of a crime, the refusal percentage increased only slightly to 65%. It’s within the margin of error.
Republicans seemed to be starting to drift away from Trump, but since the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home, for classified documents, they have coalesced around him.
Regarding the FBI research, a plurality (44%) of respondents said they believed Trump had done something illegal. Another 17% think he did something unethical, but not illegal. Nearly 30% say he did nothing wrong, including 63% Republicans.
Two-thirds of Republicans said they want Trump to run again, and 61% said they still want him to run even if he is charged with a crime.
Trump is using the FBI raid as a rallying cry, calling it a “gross abuse of the law.” This is despite the FBI obtaining a legal search warrant. The Justice Department said it began investigating after a referral from the National Archives about the mixing of classified documents with other documents it had received from Trump.
The FBI said it had evidence that Trump’s team did not turn over all the documents it was asked for – and the research confirmed it. An inventory of the search of Trump’s home found dozens of boxes of documents, some marked with the highest and most sensitive classifications.
On Monday, Trump was granted the right to a “special master” to separate documents that have attorney-client privilege and even potentially documents that could be considered to have “executive privilege”, even if Trump is not no longer president.
“We’re going to take America back,” Trump said at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on Saturday, where he blasted the FBI raid. “And in 2024, above all, we will take back our magnificent White House.”
But Trump’s base alone proved insufficient in 2020, and likely wouldn’t be in 2024 either.
Biden has also struggled with independents, who have largely disapproved of the work he has done so far, so they will be a major question mark and potentially hold the key to a 2024 presidential election, if this is a Biden-Trump rematch.
Helms, for example, said he would vote for Trump over Biden if Trump ran again, but not happily.
Cox said he would “absolutely not” vote for Trump again if there was a next time, but he was adamant that he was also unwilling to vote for Biden.
“Maybe I would vote Libertarian,” Cox said.
The survey of 1,236 adults was conducted from August 29 to September 1. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points, which means the results could be 4 points higher or lower than stated. There are 1,151 registered voters surveyed with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points.