Over a month after the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, majorities of voters think it was inappropriate for Trump to have removed sensitive documents from the White House and that the FBI acted appropriately.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on August 8 as part of an investigation into the handling of sensitive documents taken from the White House.
By a 39-point margin, more voters believe it was inappropriate (65%) than appropriate (26%) for Trump to remove those documents at the end of his presidency.
As for the FBI, by a 17-point margin voters think it acted aptly (56% appropriate vs. 39% inappropriate).
That’s according to the latest Fox News survey, released Thursday.
Most groups believe Trump having the documents was wrong and that the FBI was right in searching the residence.
Among Trump voters, while they don’t fully support his actions (46% appropriate vs. 38% inappropriate), they are more stalwart in their belief the FBI acted wrongly (21% appropriate vs. 72% inappropriate).
In addition, while voters have confidence in the FBI, a growing number — mainly Republicans — are unsure how they feel about the agency.
Overall, 7 in 10 voters have a great deal (30%) or some (41%) confidence in the FBI.
Some 13% lack confidence in the agency, down from 28% when the question was last asked in 2019. At the same time, 17% are unsure how they feel about the FBI, a 14-point jump. That increase is mainly driven by Republicans, who are 10 times more likely to be unsure today (21% vs. 2% in 2019).
In a September 1 primetime speech, President Biden remarked, “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
The poll asks voters if the way Biden and Trump talk about politics these days is heated but healthy or overheated and dangerous.
By a 24-point spread, voters are more likely to think the way Trump discusses politics is overheated (35% heated/healthy vs. 59% overheated/dangerous).
Biden’s rhetoric lands in the heated but healthy category, albeit by just 4 points (48% heated/healthy vs. 44% overheated/dangerous).
Democrats are more likely to support Biden in saying his comments are healthy (78%) than Republicans are to say the same of Trump (63%). At least half of independents think both Biden’s (50%) and Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous (67%).
“It doesn’t appear Biden’s recent approach of calling it like he sees it regarding MAGA Republicans is hurting him,” says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, whose company Beacon Research conducts the Fox New survey along with Republican pollster Daron Shaw. “More people think his approach to talking about Trump is healthy than approve of the job he’s doing as president. Maybe this is something he can lean into.”
It’s not surprising then, that the future of American democracy (85% extremely or very concerned) and political divisions within the country (79%) are top concerns for voters. Only inflation comes in higher (89%).
Other majority concerns include: higher crime rates (79%), what’s taught in public schools (71%), abortion policy (70%), gun laws (70%), climate change (66%), Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (65%), immigration (62%), and voter suppression (56%). About half are concerned about attacks by Islamic terrorists (51%), voter fraud (47%), and coronavirus (46%).
Meanwhile, voters narrowly feel the Democrats would do a better job than the Republicans preserving American democracy (47%-43%).
“There is an apparent contradiction here,” says Shaw. “Voters are extremely polarized, but are also concerned about political divisions in the country. The reality seems to be that people are responding to the polarized choices offered to them by our parties; they vote for their side, but don’t like their options very much.”
Both the president and former president are still underwater when it comes to personal ratings — Biden by 15 points (42% favorable-57% unfavorable) and Trump by 17 (41-58%).
Conducted September 9-12, 2022, under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,201 registered voters nationwide who were randomly selected from a national voter file and spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The total sample has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.