News that Donald Trump is now the target of a third criminal inquiry brought inevitable pushback from House Republicans. But amid the lies and obfuscation came one claim that has become one of the right's most popular myths.
"Every time they indict him, his numbers go up," Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee told CNN’s Manu Raju.
Not exactly. Let's just say whatever indictment bump Trump initially got appears to be fading.
Trump's lead in the Republican primary did increase nearly 10 points after March 30, when news broke of the first criminal indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in the Stormy Daniels hush-money case. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate of national polls below, Trump's support spiked from roughly 45% to 54% before plateauing, while his lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rose 14 points (from 17 to 31 points).
But after his June 8 federal indictment in the classified documents case, Trump—whose vote share at that point had dropped to 52%—received a brief 2-point bump to 54% before starting to sag again.
As Trump's third criminal indictment looms, his support has actually decreased to just over 50%—5 points better than before his first indictment, but nearly 4 points worse than after his second one.
Trump still dominates the Republican primary and leads DeSantis by about 30 points. But that is as much a result of DeSantis' failure to launch (and capitalize on Trump's legal woes) as it is a sign of Trump's overall strength.
Civiqs tracking of the supposed post-indictment bump in Trump’s favorability rating—measured among all voters, not just Republicans—is even less impressive. He gained just 1 point following the Bragg indictment (from 36% to 37%), then almost immediately lost that single point. If anything, the second indictment nominally hurt Trump, with his unfavorables increasing a point from 57% to 58%.
Trump's favorables now sit exactly where they were before he began stacking up criminal counts: 22 points underwater at 36% favorable and 58% unfavorable—very similar to FiveThirtyEight's polling aggregate.
And at the moment, both his favorable and unfavorable ratings appear to be trending in the wrong direction.
So while Trump's indictments may have given him a boost in the Republican primary, he hasn't benefited at all among the general electorate: He's just as unpopular now as he was before. It's plausible that Trump's floor is at right around one-third of the electorate and, no matter what he does—such as allegedly stealing U.S. nuclear secrets and inciting a violent effort to overthrow the government—he will never drop below 33%.
But let's check back in after Trump's latest criminal indictment drops.