By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The prosecution of former President Donald Trump has evenly divided Americans but appears to have boosted his chances of winning the Republican nomination for the 2024 election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday.
The poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, following Tuesday’s indictment of Trump on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records by prosecutors in New York City.
The survey found that 49% of all Americans think it was right for prosecutors to pursue the first criminal case against a U.S. president or former president.
But the finding underscores the political divide on so many matters revolving around Trump. Some 84% of self-described Democrats said the charges were merited, while only 16% of Republicans agreed.
Some 40% of Republicans said the case made them more likely to vote for Trump in 2024, while 12% said it made them less likely to support him. Another 38% said it had no impact.
Trump leads the field for the Republican nomination by a wide margin, with 58% of Republicans saying he is their preferred nominee. That is up from 48% in a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has not entered the race, came in second at 21%.
While Democrats and Republicans are deeply split over the prosecution of the case, the survey showed a strong belief that Trump arranged payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal to keep them quiet about alleged extramarital relationships.
Some 73% of Americans believed that to be the case, including 55% of Republicans.
However, 76% of Republicans think some in law enforcement are working to delegitimize Trump through politically motivated investigations, compared to 34% of Democrats.
Some 51% of all respondents, but only 18% of Republicans, said the charges should disqualify Trump from again running for president.
The survey of 1,004 U.S. adults has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents and plus or minus 6.3 percentage points for the 368 Republicans who participated in the poll.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Stephen Coates)