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Two-thirds of independents say they don't want Trump to run for president

Former President Donald Trump arrives on stage at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Sept. 3. According to a new poll, 67% of independents do not want Trump to run again, while just 28% said they do.
Mary Altaffer
/
AP
Former President Donald Trump arrives on stage at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Sept. 3. According to a new poll, 67% of independents do not want Trump to run again, while just 28% said they do.

Former President Donald Trump continues to heavily suggest he will run for president in 2024, but a new poll out from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist shows voters in the middle overwhelmingly don't want him to give it another go.

Sixty-seven percent of independents said they do not want Trump to run again, while just 28% said they do. In 2020, Trump lost independents and lost the election. In 2016, Trump fared better with the group, but throughout his presidency and afterward he suffered with them and has never regained them.

"I think we need someone who can start uniting the country," said survey participant Mike Helms, 68, of Lincolnton, N.C., an independent who voted for Trump in 2020. "I don't think him or [President] Biden can unite this country."

Trump has continued to be heavily unpopular outside of his base, raising questions about the strength of a Trump 2024 candidacy. People who live in large cities and suburban women continue to be two of the groups most opposed to Trump, while white evangelical Christians, whites without college degrees and those in rural areas are most supportive.

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"I definitely don't want him to run, because he will split the Republican Party and give the vote to the Democrats," said Greg Cox, 54, of New Haven, Mo., another independent who voted for Trump in 2020.

Overall, 61% of survey respondents said they don't want Trump to run again, largely unchanged from just after the 2020 election that Trump lost. A lot has transpired since then, and it shows just how locked in Americans' views are of Trump.

In fact, when respondents were asked if they would want Trump to run again, even if he is charged with a crime, the percentage saying no only increased marginally to 65%. That's within the margin of error.

Republicans looked like they were starting to pull away from Trump, but since the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home, for classified materials, they have reconsolidated around him.

When it comes to the FBI search, a plurality (44%) of respondents said they think Trump did something illegal. Another 17% think he did something unethical, but not illegal. Nearly 30% maintain he did nothing wrong, including 63% of Republicans.

Two-thirds of Republicans said they want Trump to run again, and a whopping 61% of them said they still want him to run even if he's charged with a crime.

Trump is using the FBI search as a rallying cry, calling it an "egregious abuse of the law." That's despite the FBI obtaining a legal search warrant. The Justice Department has said that it began investigating after a referral from the National Archives about classified material being mixed in with other material it 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 search bore that out. An inventory of the search of Trump's home found dozens of boxes of documents, including some marked with the highest, most sensitive classifications.

On Monday, Trump was granted the right to a "special master" to separate out materials that have attorney-client privilege and even potentially material that could be argued to have "executive privilege," even though Trump is no longer president.

"We're going to take back America," Trump said at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Saturday, where he lambasted the FBI search. "And in 2024, most importantly, we are going to take back our magnificent White House."

But Trump's base alone proved not to be enough in 2020, and likely wouldn't be in 2024, either.

Biden has also struggled with independents, who have largely disapproved of the job he has done so far, so they will be a major question mark and potentially hold the key to a 2024 presidential election, if it is a Biden-Trump rematch.

Helms, for example, said he would vote for Trump over Biden if Trump does run again, but not happily.

Cox said he would "absolutely not" vote for Trump again if there's a next time around, but he emphatically said he is not open to voting for Biden, either.

"Maybe I'd vote Libertarian," Cox said.

Methodology

The survey of 1,236 adults was conducted Aug. 29 through Sept. 1. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points, meaning results could be 4 points higher or lower than what is shown. There are 1,151 registered voters surveyed with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.