Looking through the new CNN poll on the January 6, 2021, insurrection and the role Donald Trump played in it, I was struck by a simple, nagging question: How can anyone with these sort of numbers be elected president again in 2024?
Let’s go through some of the numbers:
* 45% of Americans think Trump acted illegally on January 6.
* 34% think Trump acted unethically but not illegally.
* 61% believe that Trump’s public statements encouraged the political violence that day.
* Just 23% think Trump did everything in his power to stop the riot once it was underway.
* Only 32% think Trump did more than then-Vice President Mike Pence to act in the best interests of the country that day. (67% say Pence did more.)
Almost half the country thinks Trump acted illegally! Roughly 1 in 4 think he did everything he could to stop the riot once it started! About 6 in 10 think he encouraged the violence that day!
These are terrible numbers. Like, really bad.
It appears that the American public, broadly speaking, has made up its mind about Trump and January 6. They believe he instigated it, made it worse and may have even broke the law.
So, how then are we talking about him as a serious presidential candidate in 2024?
Buried in the numbers in the CNN poll is our answer.
Respondents were asked whether they believed what happened on January 6 was a crisis, a major problem, a minor problem or not a problem.
Overall, almost 7 in 10 described it as either a crisis (27%) or a major problem (42%).
But when you look at what Republicans say about that day, the numbers were very different. Just roughly 1 in 3 said it was either a crisis (10%) or a major problem (26%). The majority of Republicans said January 6 was either a minor problem (36%) or not a problem at all (27%).
What does that tell us? That Republicans put far less weight on what happened on January 6 – and what it means for the country – compared to the public at large.
Which means, in turn, that January 6 matters less to Republicans when they are considering who to nominate for president. To that point, almost 3 in 4 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say that the party should be very or somewhat accepting of candidates who believe the 2020 election was stolen.
The Point: The views of Republicans on January 6 (and the 2020 election) mean that Trump can win a primary. But the numbers I cited above should worry every Republican about whether he can win a(nother) general election.