The new federal charges filed against former President Donald Trump over his alleged mishandling of classified documents put him — and voters — in an unprecedented situation, as he asks the American people to send him to the White House again while facing more criminal charges.
Trump's prior indictment in New York on charges alleging falsification of business documents didn't move the political needle much. In fact, it prompted Republicans to rally around him.
The new federal charges are of a different, serious nature, so it's unclear how the public may digest the accusations and the forthcoming trial. But there is recent polling that explains what Americans think about the prospect of Trump being charged with crimes, including some specifically about an indictment related to his handling of classified documents. Here's what the case means for Trump and the 2024 election.
Majorities say crimes Trump accused of are "serious"
A Yahoo-YouGov poll conducted in late May found that a majority of Americans believe that the crimes Trump has been accused of across multiple indictments are "serious."
Fifty-two percent called "falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to a porn star," the allegation at the center of his Manhattan indictment, a serious crime. (Democrats and Republicans were deeply divided on this, while 49% of independents said it was a serious crime and 37% said it wasn't serious.)
Meanwhile, 63% of Americans, called "taking highly classified documents from the White House and obstructing efforts to retrieve them" a serious crime.
Significant majorities of Democrats (82%) and independents (62%) felt that way, as well as 66% of registered voters overall. But Republicans were more split on this question than others, with a plurality of 42% calling the crime serious and 35% saying it's not serious.
That's a critical distinction as Trump competes in the GOP presidential primary.
Americans were relatively split as to whether those two allegations changed their views on Trump. Just 13% said they felt more positive about Trump after hearing about these allegations, 34% said they felt more negative about him, and 43% said their view stayed the same.
Among Republicans, 43% said their view didn't change of Trump, 22% said the allegations made them feel more negative about Trump, while 27% said it made them feel more positively about him.
Majority of Americans don't think Trump should serve if convicted
The same Yahoo-YouGov poll showed 62% of Americans agreeing that Trump shouldn't be allowed to serve as president if he's convicted of a "serious crime."
That includes 63% of independents and 84% of Democrats, while Republicans were again split: 39% agreed he should not be allowed to serve, while 43% said he should.
Ahead of Trump's indictment in Manhattan, Quinnipiac University asked Americans whether they thought criminal charges, not an indictment, should disqualify Trump from running. A majority of Americans, including majorities of Democrats and independents, agreed, but three-quarters of Republicans said charges alone shouldn't disqualify Trump.
Republicans have said they want the party to rally around him
April's NBC News poll found that 68% of Republican primary voters believe the investigations into Trump are political and designed to blunt his presidential campaign, and they want the party to rally around him. Another 26% said they wanted their party to nominate a candidate who won't be distracted and can focus on beating President Joe Biden.
A slim majority of all voters, 52%, said that in his New York indictment, Trump has been treated like anyone else accused of those same crimes and hasn't been unfairly targeted.
But that comes in contrast to a Quinnipiac University finding from late March, when 62% of Americans said that Manhattan case is "mainly motivated by politics" versus the 32% who called it "mainly motivated by the law."
A number of other things have happened since the New York charges dropped, but Trump has seen his standing in the GOP presidential nominating contest tick up since that point. Trump had about 48% of the share of the GOP vote on average, per FiveThirtyEight's polling average, on April 1, with DeSantis at 28%.
As of June 8, Trump sat at 54% to DeSantis' 21%.
Americans may be more concerned about election-related allegations
Another April poll from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that Americans are more likely to believe Trump did "something illegal" in relation to his conduct surrounding the 2020 election.
More than half — 53% — said his "alleged interference in Georgia's 2020 vote count" was illegal, 49% said the same about "his role in what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, 47% said the "classified documents found at his Florida home" amounted to something illegal, and 41% said the same about "allegations that he covered up hush money payments."