California voters open to prosecuting Trump, poll shows

Two-thirds of California voters believe former President Trump should be prosecuted if the government believes there is sufficient evidence of crimes, but far fewer believe he is likely to be charged, according to a new poll.

The Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, found strong partisan disagreements over the former president’s investigation, with nearly 6 in 10 Republicans believing prosecuting Trump would not be good for the country, while only 4% of Democrats think the same way.

Still, there are signs that Trump’s hold over the GOP in California is waning, with a small but noticeable drop in Republican voters identifying as Trump supporters rather than supporters of the party.

The poll shows that President Biden’s approval ratings in the state have returned to positive territory, largely due to improved performance among key Democratic voters.

“He’s strengthened some of his base,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the IGS survey at Berkeley. “You should have that [these voters] with you as you consider running for another term. Demonstrating that he can get things done…really helps him.”

The poll was conducted in late September after a summer of escalating legal troubles for Trump. An investigation into whether he was improperly holding presidential documents, including classified material, led to an unprecedented FBI search of his Florida home in August. A separate federal investigation into the Jan. 6 attack and efforts to overthrow the 2020 presidential election has pinned a growing number of figures in Trump’s orbit. The former president, his company and his children have also been sued by the New York Attorney General on charges of massive business fraud.

Democratic voters are almost unanimously — 91% — believing that Trump should be prosecuted when the evidence warrants it, and almost 70% of non-party voters think the same way. Only 22% of registered Republican voters think impeachment should be brought.

“Republicans clearly have a different view of what should be done even if they find evidence against him,” DiCamillo said. “They are also more skeptical that this is likely to lead to anything.”

Overall, a small majority of California voters – 49% – do not believe Trump will face legal action over the investigation, while 46% believe indictment is likely. Among Republicans, 70% think an indictment is unlikely, while 6 in 10 Democrats believe at least one of the investigations will lead to a criminal prosecution. No party preference voters are more evenly split, with a narrow majority expressing doubts Trump will be impeached.

“The results indicate that while most voters support the idea of ​​impeaching Donald Trump, a significant number are unsure whether this would be a likely outcome,” said G. Cristina Mora, co-director by IGS. “This raises important questions about Californians’ trust in the federal government and its capabilities, and voters’ trust in fair investigative results.”

About 60% of respondents believe that pursuing Trump would lead to increased acts of political violence — a view held by a strong majority of Democrats and independent voters but only a third of Republicans.

The poll found that Republicans are more likely to prioritize their support for their party over Trump. Just 16% of Republicans say they identify themselves primarily as Trump supporters, down from 25% in April 2021. The decline in those who support Trump over the GOP has been across the board, from the strongest conservatives to towards more moderate members of the party and in all geographic regions of the state.

“There’s a significant decrease in almost every subgroup that we can examine,” DiCamillo said. “It represents a weakening of Trump in terms of how Republicans view him.”

Biden has improved his standing with California voters, with 52% approving his job performance and 43% disapproving, up from an evenly split approval/disapproval rating of 48% in the last IGS poll in August. Its stronger footing is fueled by bullish ticks among key Democratic constituencies, including voters of color and self-proclaimed liberals.

The president’s improvement is particularly notable among Latino voters, who gave Biden a 53% approval to 39% disapproval after a 47% to 47% split the month before. Biden also has majority support among Black voters (58%) and Asian American respondents (54%), and has risen with both groups since August.

Biden’s standing among voters aged 18 to 29 rose 8 percentage points, with 47% applauding his performance. In the most recent poll, the state’s youngest voters were “much more likely to vote against the president. I think that’s because they didn’t see him as very effective,” DiCamillo said. He added that Biden’s executive order to reduce the student loan burden may have helped change these views.

The state’s non-party voters, who are usually seen as frontrunners because their views are less biased by partisanship, gave Biden a mixed mark, with his approval and disapproval ratings split equally at 46%.

The Berkeley IGS poll was conducted online September 22-27 among 8,725 California-registered voters. The sample was weighted to match census and voter registration benchmarks. Accurate estimates of margin of error are difficult because of the weighting, but the results are estimated to have a margin of error of about 2 percentage points in either direction for the entire sample. For the Republican voter sample, the margin of error is plus or minus 4 points. California voters open to prosecuting Trump, poll shows

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