Trump’s Support Is Growing Among GOP Voters—Even As Possible Indictment Looms


Former President Donald Trump’s support among Republican voters has grown slightly in recent weeks, despite a possibly looming indictment in Manhattan and incendiary rhetoric against law enforcement officials who are leading the probe, according to a new poll that shows Trump with a double-digit lead in the 2024 GOP primary.

Key Facts

Some 50% of Republican voters said they will vote for Trump in the 2024 primary, according to the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released Monday, up four points from the groups’ previous poll in February.

An even larger share of Republicans—57%—believe Trump will win the nomination.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—who hasn’t announced a 2024 run yet—netted support from 24% of respondents, consistent with his standing in the February Harvard/Harris poll.

The poll of 2,905 registered voters was taken March 22-23, days after news broke that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is readying an indictment against Trump for his role in hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The polls are consistent with others taken in recent weeks that show GOP voters are increasingly leaning toward voting for Trump versus DeSantis and are largely unfazed by the criminal investigations swirling around the former president, after Trump had a rocky start to his third run for the presidency following his campaign announcement in November.

A PBS/Marist poll, taken March 20-23 and released this week, also showed 81% of Republicans have a favorable view of Trump (compared to 39% of all 1,327 respondents), and 80% of GOP respondents believe the various investigations into Trump are political “witch hunts,” versus 56% of all U.S. adults who say the investigations are fair.

Big Number

56%. That’s the share of GOP voters who said they would vote for Trump in a head-to-head matchup with DeSantis, who netted 44% of voters. If Trump weren’t running, DeSantis would be the clear favorite, with 45% of respondents saying they would vote for him, according to the Harvard/Harris poll. DeSantis is widely expected to announce his candidacy after the conclusion of the Florida legislative session in May. Only two other GOP candidates, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, have formally announced bids. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who has also said he is considering running, came in third in a hypothetical matchup, with support from 7% of GOP voters, followed by Haley with 5%.

Crucial Quote

“Trump showed signs of keeping or even strengthening his hold on the Republican primary,” Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, told The Hill. “Ron Desantis remains the candidate with the most immediate potential to take on Trump but his abilities won’t be clear until he announces.”

Key Background

Trump’s many controversies since announcing his third run for the White House in November haven’t dented his support among voters, according to recent polls. In the weeks after he announced his candidacy, prominent Republicans publicly criticized him for the party’s worse-than-expected midterm performance, for hosting a dinner at Mar-A-Lago with white supremacist Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West and for declaring that parts of the Constitution should be abolished so that he could be reinstated as president. An Emerson poll released late last month found Trump had a 30-point lead over DeSantis, up four points from Emerson’s January poll. A February Yahoo News/YouGov poll also showed Trump regaining ground on DeSantis, with an 8-point lead, after trailing him by four points in a poll taken by the groups weeks prior. The polling trend is consistent with Trump’s time in the White House, when his controversies often had little effect on his standing with supporters: His approval rating hovered at around 40% throughout the duration of his tenure, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling tracker, and fell just four points in the weeks after the January 6 Capitol riots.


The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is investigating Trump’s role in payments his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made to Daniels in exchange for her silence about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to five federal charges related to the deal, including campaign finance violations, after prosecutors determined the payments were made in an attempt to sway the results of the 2016 presidential election. Manhattan prosecutors are reportedly considering whether to charge Trump with falsifying business records after the Trump Organization repaid Cohen for the $130,000 he gave to Daniels under a contract that falsely specified the reimbursements were for legal fees. The charge, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison, could be elevated to a felony if prosecutors can tie it to a second crime. In the lead up to the potential indictment, Trump and his Republican allies have accused the Manhattan District Attorney’s office of leading a politically motivated investigation. During a raucous rally in Waco, Texas, on Saturday, Trump declared himself “the most innocent man in the history of our country” and denied having an affair with Daniels.

What To Watch For

The Manhattan grand jury weighing charges against Trump could reconvene on Monday after proceedings in the case were put on hold on Wednesday and Thursday last week. Trump is also facing two separate Justice Department investigations into his role in the January 6 Capitol riots and his handling of classified documents he took to Mar-A-Lago after leaving office. Prosecutors in Georgia are also probing his role in efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 win in the state.

Further Reading

Trump Beats DeSantis Among Florida Voters In Poll While Ramping Up Attacks (Forbes)

Trump’s Lawyer Calls Posts Targeting Manhattan D.A. ‘Ill vised’ (Forbes)

Trump Says He’s ‘The Most Innocent Man’ At First 2024 Rally Ahead Of Possible Indictment (Forbes)

Trump’s 2024 GOP Competition: Sen. Tim Scott Teases ‘Political Update’ As He Weighs Run For President (Forbes)

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