CNN survey shows 48% of those polled believe it ‘essential’ case is resolved before voting as judge orders delay, and another 16% would prefer it

Donald Trump campaigns in Concord, New Hampshire, on 19 January. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

More than half of those in the US want to see Donald Trump’s 2020 election subversion case resolved before the former president runs for the White House again in November, according to a poll published on Monday.

Meanwhile, a quarter of Americans do not think Trump will ever concede if he loses a second time to Joe Biden, said the survey, commissioned by CNN.

The survey in question found that 48% of those polled believed it was “essential” for there to be a verdict before November’s election. Another 16% said that they would at least prefer to see one.

CNN’s poll also showed that expectations Trump would concede if he loses have dropped from 37% to 25% since October – and more than three-quarters (78%) think the former president would try to pardon himself of federal charges stemming from his presidency if he wins another stint in the Oval Office.

Trump has been performing strongly in polls as compared with Biden. A survey by NBC News released on Sunday found that Biden is beset by a deficit of 20 percentage points against Trump in his handling of the economy, despite signs that the US may have achieved an almost unique “soft-landing” after a government and consumer spending boom during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The poll also found that fewer than three in 10 voters approve of Biden’s handling of the Israel-Gaza war. And Biden lags Trump by 16 points on the perception of competence and effectiveness, a reversal from 2020.

But the question of Trump’s legal quagmire hangs over Biden’s unfavorable polling. The former president is facing more than 90 criminal charges accusing him of trying to illegally nullify his defeat by Biden, illicitly retaining government secrets after leaving the White House and making illegal hush-money payments to an adult film actor who has claimed an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump.

If Trump is convicted of a felony, the poll found, a five-point lead for Trump flips to a two-point lead for Biden.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

On Friday, the US district judge Tanya Chutkan formally postponed the federal election interference case against Trump over which she is presiding. It was scheduled to begin in March, but that date has been pushed back while a Washington DC appeals court weighs arguments from the Trump legal team that he is immune from prosecution for actions taken while he was president.

If the DC appeals court rejects Trump’s appeal, it will probably advance to the US supreme court, meaning further trial delays.

Public desire for a resolution to that case before the November election comes as recent polling by Bloomberg found majorities of voters in seven key swing states would be unwilling to vote for Trump if he is convicted of a crime (53%) or sentenced to prison (55%) in one of the four cases against him overall.

But, according to CNN, views of Trump’s efforts to stay in office despite his 2020 defeat in effect remain unchanged from the summer of 2022, with 45% of US adults saying he acted illegally, 32% unethically, and 23% that he did nothing wrong at all.

  • This article was amended on 6 February 2024 to clarify that over half of the US would like to see Donald Trump’s 2020 election subversion case resolved before the 2024 election, not “nearly half” as originally worded.

Here in the UK, the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, had promised us a government of stability and competence – not forgetting professionalism, integrity and accountability – after the rollercoaster ride of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. Remember Liz? These days she seems like a long forgotten comedy act. Instead, Sunak took us even further through the looking-glass into the Conservative psychodrama.

Elsewhere, the picture has been no better. In the US, Donald Trump is now many people’s favourite to become president again. In Ukraine, the war has dragged on with no end in sight. The danger of the rest of the world getting battle fatigue and losing interest all too apparent. Then there is the war in the Middle East and not forgetting the climate crisis …

But a new year brings new hope. There are elections in many countries, including the UK and the US. We have to believe in change. That something better is possible. The Guardian will continue to cover events from all over the world and our reporting now feels especially important. But running a news gathering organisation doesn’t come cheap.

So this year, I am asking you – if you can afford it – to give money. Well, not to me personally – though you can if you like – but to the Guardian. The average monthly support in New Zealand is around NZ$4, however much you give, all that matters is you’re choosing to support open, independent journalism.

With your help, we can make our journalism free to everyone. You won’t ever find any of our news reports or comment pieces tucked away behind a paywall. We couldn’t do this without you. Unlike our politicians, when we say we are in this together we mean it.

Happy new year!

John Crace

Guardian columnist


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