Trump’s Support Among Republicans Appears to Slip After Espionage Indictment

Trump’s Support Among Republicans Appears to Slip After Espionage Indictment

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., June 13, 2023. Trump's attacks on the justice system after his indictment on federal charges this week are the latest step in a now eight-year campaign by the former president and his allies against the traditions and institutions that have helped maintain American democracy. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

By Isabel Soisson

June 21, 2023

Less than two weeks after he was charged with 31 counts of violating the Espionage Act due to his mishandling of classified military and nuclear documents, former president Donald Trump’s support among Republican voters appears to be taking a hit.

A new CNN poll conducted by SSRS has found that Trump’s support has declined following his indictment and arrest on federal charges, with 47% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying he’s their first choice for the party’s nomination for president, down from 53% in May.

While the former president still leads the GOP field by a wide margin in the race for the Republican Party’s nomination in 2024, his overall favorability rating is now down to just 33% and his favorability rating among GOP and GOP-leaning independents has fallen, from 77% in May to 67% now. The percentage of these voters who say they won’t support him under any circumstances has also increased, from 16% in May to 23% after the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Trump illegally left the White House with classified information “regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attacks; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”

The indictment also says Trump tried to obstruct the investigation in several ways, including suggesting that his attorney hide or destroy documents requested by the grand jury in the investigation. It also reveals that Trump stored the classified documents in “a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room.”

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the 31 counts of violating the Espionage Act, as well as to several other counts related to his alleged effort to obstruct the investigation. 

While Trump’s most loyal supporters continue to stand by his side, the poll found that most U.S. adults (55%) believe Trump acted illegally, with another 30% saying he acted
unethically but not illegally, and only 15% saying that he did nothing wrong. Overall, 61% of Americans approve of the decision to indict Trump and 57% say that Trump’s mishandling of the documents put national security at risk, including 88% of Democrats and 67% of independents. Notably, only 18% of Republicans feel that way. 

A significant majority of Americans, 59%, also say that Trump should end his campaign in light of his indictment, with another 11% saying he should do so if he’s convicted on the federal charges.

Nonetheless, the former president has vowed to “never drop out of the 2024 presidential race.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis polled in second place for the GOP nomination, with 26% support among those surveyed. Trump’s former vice president Mike Pence polled third, at 9%, and Trump’s former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, all earned less than 5%.

Trump also faces significant legal troubles elsewhere across the country, including an investigation in Georgia for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Department of Justice inquiries into his role in the Jan. 6 attack, and another case in New York, where he was recently indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records over allegations that he made hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges in those cases, as well.

The CNN poll was conducted from June 13 through 17 among a random national sample of 1,350 adults drawn from a probability-based panel. This panel included 561 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote, and the surveys were conducted online, or via telephone.


  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

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