It seems like the Jan. 6 hearings might be making a difference.
If you’ve been paying attention to the House Select Committee’s hearings on the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt, you’ve probably had a thought that goes something like: “This is all incredibly damning. It’s a shame it won’t matter.” Well, here’s a little evidence that might make you set your (earned) cynicism aside, if only for a moment: A new poll from ABC News and Ipsos shows 6 in 10 Americans now believe that former President Donald Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Given how hard it is to get 60% of America to agree to anything, it’s pretty surprising that there appears to be a solid consensus among those polled that the previous president committed a crime. Of course, they aren’t alone in believing that — a federal judge has said as much, too. But still!
Despite the apparent agreement on Trump’s criminality, parsing how Americans are processing the hearings is a bit tricky. The poll, conducted June 17-18 among 545 adults, found that just 34% of Americans are following the committee’s investigation, with just 1 in 10 saying they are following it closely. This is despite the prime-time opening night that drew more than 20 million viewers.
But the evidence presented seems to be moving the needle for the people who are watching. Of those paying attention, 60% believe the investigation is being conducted fairly and impartially. The result is a shift in the number of people who want to hold Trump responsible for his actions. Back in April, before the trial began, there was a nearly 50/50 split among voters as to whether Trump committed a crime or not. A nearly 10% swing suggests that those who are watching are moved by what they have seen.
This is all good. Whether it actually leads to criminal charges against Trump for his attempt to thwart democracy and install himself as president against the will of the American people is yet to be seen, but at least there appears to be some sort of consensus forming around the former president’s actions. Enough to disqualify him? Who knows! The Republican Party of Texas has adopted an official platform rejecting the results of the 2020 election, so we’re probably stuck living in this hell for the foreseeable future.
That said ... none of this is likely to make a difference in the midterms. ABC News’s poll found that 51% of people said the findings of the committee won’t affect who they will vote for. About 3 in 10 voters said they’d be more likely to vote for Democrats, but 19% said they’d be more likely to vote for Republicans. So if Democrats are hoping to win over voters, they might have to, you know, do something rather than just point out the fact that Republicans are criminal actors.