The poll from Trump’s pollster John McLaughlin–who is widely regarded as one of the best GOP pollsters in the business–is some of the most in-depth data gathered since the news broke on Thursday that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted Trump.
The survey of 1,000 general election voters, conducted on Friday March 31 and Saturday April 1–the immediate aftermath of the indictment news–with a margin of error of 3.1 percent, found Trump leading Biden 47 percent to 43 percent. In a memo accompanying the release of the data, McLaughin noted that the indictment did not seem to change the top lines from a survey he conducted earlier in March.
But in the GOP primary, Trump has taken a commanding lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. When polling a full 14-candidate field, Trump has majority support at 51 percent and DeSantis has experienced a double digit drop down to 21 percent. Since McLaughlin’s January polling, that means the race has swung a net 18 points away from DeSantis towards Trump.
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“In a full-field ballot test of 14 potential Republican candidates, President Trump leads with 51%, DeSantis 21%, Mike Pence 6%, Nikki Haley 4%, and everyone else is at 2% or less,” McLaughlin wrote in the memo. “In our January survey, President Trump led the field with 43%, and DeSantis was at 31%. Trump’s lead has gone from 12 points to 30 points.”
In a hypothetical head-to-head matchup with DeSantis, Trump has skyrocketed above 60 percent now–to 63 percent total–while DeSantis has cratered to just 30 percent from the 40 percent he enjoyed back then. That 33 percent gap between Trump and DeSantis means Trump has more than tripled his 12 percent January lead head-to-head over DeSantis from the same pollster. Back then, Trump led 52 percent to 40 percent–which also means that Trump;s more than tripling of the margin between him and DeSantis since then represents a net 22 point swing against DeSantis and toward Trump since the beginning of the year.
While those impressive top-line numbers both in the primary and general election are strong for Trump–and in line with most other recent polling from major independent pollsters perhaps the more impressive statistics in this McLaughlin polling come when both primary and general election voters are asked what they think of the indictment of Trump.
When asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for Trump because of Bragg’s indictment, 57 percent of GOP primary voters said it makes them more likely to back the former president. Only eight percent said it makes them less likely to back Trump, whereas 31 percent said it made no difference, while four percent were unsure.
While that is not particularly shocking–Republicans party-wide, even some of Trump’s biggest critics have been rallying around Trump since Thursday–the general election audience had surprisingly strong numbers when asked the same question. A whopping 33 percent of general election voters said Bragg’s indictment made it more likely they would vote for Trump in November 2024, while just 20 percent said it made them less likely. Forty-four percent said it made no difference, and four percent were unsure. That means among a general election election audience, a total of 77 percent of likely voters said the indictment either has no impact on whether they would vote for Trump or made it more likely they would back him.
Similar polling data from the Trafalgar Group/Convention of States Action from last week showed a similar breakdown, so this seems to be a consistent trend emerging.
In a general election audience, too, a plurality–48 percent–agreed when asked if they agree Biden “and the radical left have weaponized the justice system to prosecute their political opponents.” Only 39 percent disagreed, and 14 percent did not know or refused to answer.
Among Republicans, 83 percent agree with that sentiment–and 11 percent disagree, while six percent didn’t know or refused to answer.
A majority of general election voters, too, agreed there is a double standard with Biden versus Trump when it comes to investigations. “Do you agree or disagree that under President Biden there is a double standard of criminal justice where the alleged Hunter Biden and Biden family corruption escapes indictments while President Trump is continually investigated looking for crimes to prosecute against him?” respondents were asked.
A solid majority, 55 percent, agreed, whereas just 33 percent disagreed, and 12 percent didn’t know or refused to answer. Among Republicans, again unsurprisingly, the percentage who agree shoots up to 85 percent–while just 10 percent disagreed and six percent did not know or refused to answer.
An even bigger majority, 56 percent, of general election voters agreed when asked if they think Biden and “the radical left are making things worse and keeping the country divided” by “continuing to attack President Trump.” Only 34 percent disagreed, and 10 percent did not know or refused to answer. Again among Republicans, that shoots up to 86 percent agreeing, just nine percent disagreeing, and five percent did not know or refused to answer.
Then here is the real kicker: A majority of general election voters, 57 percent, agreed with this sentiment: “Joe Biden and the Democrats are spending too much time and resources going after Donald Trump with phony political attacks that are a waste of time and taxpayers’ dollars instead of trying to solve the country’s real problems on issues like the economy, inflation, crime, immigration and national security.” Only 35 percent disagreed, and eight percent did not know or refused to answer.
Again, among just Republicans, that shoots up to 88 percent who agree and just eight percent disagree, while four percent did not know or refused to answer.
The reason that last question is significant is because if Trump is able to turn the tables on this on Biden–make it seem like Biden is so focused on taking him out personally while not solving ordinary Americans’ real life problems–that could become a potent general election issue and deciding factor for voters.
Assuming Democrats are getting similar data in their own internal polls–and they probably are–that might explain why Biden has sought to distance himself so much from Bragg in the wake of the indictment decision and why several more moderate Democrats are urging caution, while some of their more base-focused leaders have been exuberant about the indictment.