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Americans divided on how SCOTUS should handle Trump ballot access: POLL

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(NEW YORK) — Americans are divided on how the U.S. Supreme Court should handle former President Donald Trump’s ballot access, but a majority in a new ABC News/Ipsos poll say they would support the court either barring Trump from presidential ballots nationally or letting states take that step individually.

The national poll finds a close division on state-level rulings barring Trump from the ballot in Colorado and Maine, 49-46%, support-oppose. On next steps, 56% are willing to see him disqualified in all or some states, including 30% who say the high court should bar him in all states and 26% who say it should let each state decide.

Thirty-nine percent back a third option, saying the court should keep Trump on the ballot in all states.

The survey, produced by Langer Research Associates with fieldwork by Ipsos Public Affairs, also finds substantial support for the leveling of criminal charges against Trump, 56-39%. That contrasts with views on the impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden initiated last month by House Republicans, a step supported by 44% and opposed by 51%.

See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

A conviction, were it to happen, looks unlikely to shake Trump’s base: Among people with a favorable opinion of him, just 10% say a conviction would lower their opinion of Trump, while 12% say it would raise it.

At the same time, among all adults, 21% say a conviction would lower their opinion of the former president, including 15% of Republicans and 23% of independents (as well as 28% of Democrats). Independents often, albeit not always, are swing voters in presidential elections.

Strength of sentiment in the Trump and Biden cases is notable. Forty-one percent of Americans strongly support criminal charges against Trump, while many fewer, 24%, strongly oppose them. In Biden’s case, intensity is more closely distributed: 26% strongly support the impeachment inquiry, while 32% strongly oppose it.

Strength of sentiment doesn’t differentiate views of the Colorado and Maine rulings on Trump’s ballot access. In this case, 35% are strongly in support, while essentially as many, 34%, are strongly opposed.

SCOTUS

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear ballot access arguments on Feb. 8. The Colorado Supreme Court and Maine’s secretary of state have ruled that Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, protest at the U.S. Capitol makes him ineligible for the presidency under the 14th Amendment.

The case marks a potential turn for the court after its unpopular June 2022 ruling eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion. Last spring, just 39% of Americans thought the court’s justices, in general, base their rulings on the law; 51% instead said they rule based on their personal political views. Today, more think the justices will rule on the basis of the law in the Trump ballot access case, 53%, while fewer, albeit still 43%, think they’ll rule based on their political views.

Groups

Partisanship weighs heavily in these results. The Biden impeachment inquiry is supported by 81% of Republicans vs. 14% of Democrats; the criminal charges against Trump, by 89% of Democrats vs. 21% of Republicans. The main difference is independents: While 43% support the Biden inquiry, many more, 61%, support the Trump charges.

Ideological preferences differentiate as well, with three-quarters of conservatives supporting the Biden inquiry while 92% of liberals back the Trump charges. Here the main difference in overall outcomes is moderates — 39% support the Biden inquiry, compared with 65% who support the Trump charges.

There’s a difference by race/ethnicity as well. Roughly equal numbers of white Americans, about half in each case, support both the Biden inquiry and the Trump charges. The Biden inquiry is supported by 44% of Hispanic people, dropping to 24% of Black people. The Trump charges, by contrast, are supported by more than six in 10 Black and Hispanic people alike.

These also differentiate views on Supreme Court action. For example, 58% of Democrats say the court should order Trump removed in all states; 77% of Republicans say it should order him to be maintained on all ballots. Here, independents are more apt to say he should remain (36%) than be removed (27%). But an additional 32% of independents favor letting each state decide.

At the same time, the shift in views on the court’s adherence to the law crosses party lines. Compared with general views last May, the view that the justices in this particular case will base their ruling on the law is 10 percentage points higher among Democrats, 15 points higher among independents and 18 points higher among Republicans.

Methodology

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted online via the probability-based Ipsos KnowledgePanel® Jan. 4-8, 2024, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 2,228 adults. Partisan divisions are 25-25-41%, Democrats-Republicans-independents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 2.5 percentage points, including the design effect. Sampling error is not the only source of differences in polls.

The survey was produced by Langer Research Associates, with sampling and data collection by Ipsos Public Affairs. See details on ABC News survey methodology here.

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