About half of respondents in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll suspect that President Donald Trump himself broke the law during the presidential campaign and just three in 10 Americans think that alleged wrongdoing ends with those who were charged this week by the special counsel.
The poll finds substantial support for the investigation, with 58 percent approving of how special counsel Robert Mueller is handling it, and more – 68 percent – approving of the filling of federal charges against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and one of his associates.
Only 28 percent think the case is limited to Manafort, Richard Gates and a former Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, who’s pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents. Fifty-three percent see “broader wrongdoing,” and a substantial 19 percent are withholding judgment.
Moreover, just 37 percent think Trump is cooperating with the investigation; many more, 51 percent, say he’s not cooperating, and another sizable share, 12 percent, have no opinion. And 49 percent of Americans think it’s likely that Trump himself committed a crime in connection with possible Russian attempts to influence the election. Slightly fewer, 44 percent, call this unlikely.
That said, many fewer, 19 percent, think there’s been “solid evidence” of criminal wrongdoing by Trump. Three in 10 in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, instead say it’s their suspicion only.
Indeed these views strongly reflect partisan predispositions. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 73 percent, call it likely that Trump broke the law. Almost the same number of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, 77 percent, say it’s unlikely.
Nonetheless, this leaves substantial numbers within Trump’s base – 36 percent of working-class whites, 34 percent of rural Americans and 30 percent of conservatives, for example – who call it likely that he committed a crime related to the 2016 campaign. Again, most in each case call this a suspicion, not a factual judgment.
Trump’s core supporters, however, remain overwhelmingly by his side. Among those who voted for him last year, a mere 6 percent suspect him of lawbreaking in the campaign. That soars to 80 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters, reflecting the still-raw divisions of the election. It’s 58 percent among those who voted for others, or didn’t vote.
Political divisions are a bit less garish, but still profound, on other questions. There’s a 40-point gap between Democrats and Republicans in approval of Mueller’s handling of the investigation, 78 vs. 38 percent, and a 50-point gap between Clinton and Trump voters, though even a third of Trump voters approve (33 percent vs. 83 percent of Clinton’s).
Three-quarters of Trump voters and two-thirds of Republicans maintain that he’s cooperating with Mueller; a mere 15 percent of Clinton voters and 21 percent of Democrats agree (as do just a third of political independents).
That said, there are just two groups in which majorities (both 56 percent) think the case is limited to Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos – Trump voters and those who approve of Trump. And partisanship fades on the Manafort/Gates indictment: Fifty-seven percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Trump voters approve of it, numbers that swell by 20 or 30 points, respectively, among their political opposites.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 714 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 32-23-38 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.