After Attorney General William P. Barr released a summary of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, President Trump claimed victory. But few voters say they are more likely to support Trump’s 2020 reelection effort because of Mueller’s findings.
According to a Washington Post-Schar School poll completed last week, 17 percent of U.S. adults said the findings of Mueller’s investigation made them more likely to vote for Trump in 2020. Thirty percent said it made them less likely to vote for Trump.
The largest share, 51 percent, said the report’s findings will make no difference in their vote next year. The muted and mixed result aligns with other polls measuring Trump’s job approval rating, which has shown little clear movement in the positive or negative direction after the Barr letter became public.
Some of this result reflects deep partisan divides. Democrats were overwhelmingly critical of Trump before Mueller completed his report, so it is not surprising that 48 percent say they are “less likely” to support him now. The same can be said in reverse for Republicans: 36 percent said they were “more likely” to support him now, but the vast majority of Republicans already approved of his job performance.
Independents and other swing voting groups offer another lens with which to understand how Mueller’s findings could shape Trump’s reelection effort. A 54 percent majority of independents said Mueller’s findings would make no difference in their decision. And among those who said the findings matter, 30 percent said they are less likely to support Trump’s reelection, roughly twice the percentage who said they are more likely to vote for Trump (14 percent).
Thirty-seven percent of self-described moderates said they were less likely to vote for Trump now, while 11 percent said they were more likely. Suburban dwellers were also more apt to say they were less likely to vote for Trump by a 27 percent to 19 percent margin, along with Americans between the ages of 40 and 64: 29 percent of that group said they were less likely to vote for the president, 20 percent said they were more likely.
There’s better news for Trump in a separate NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll that was in the field around the same time as the Post-Schar School poll. The survey used a different measure of 2020 support, asking registered voters whether they would “definitely vote for” or “definitely vote against” Trump, a question they had also asked during the January partial government shutdown. This month, 35 percent said they would “definitely vote for” the president, up from 30 percent in January. Fifty-four percent said they would “definitely vote against” Trump in next year’s election, nominally down from 57 percent who said the same in January.
Among political independents, the NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll found the percentage saying they would definitely vote for Trump bumped up from 25 percent in January to 32 percent last week. It’s not clear how much of this movement can be attributed to the Mueller investigation’s completion or other factors. The January survey was conducted at a particularly weak point for Trump, when he faced significant blame for the partial government shutdown.
The Post-Schar School poll also shows Americans are about divided on whether Democrats should investigate whether Trump interfered with the Russia investigation.
Even if Trump sees the Barr letter as a total exoneration, the public is still skeptical, and polls show that the letter’s findings do not pull more people into his corner for 2020.
Scott Clement contributed to this report.