New Survey: Less Than a Quarter of Americans Think Trump Should Fire Mueller or Pardon Senior Officials Despite Deeply Polarized Perceptions of the Russia Investigation

New Polling from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group Shows that Most Republicans Doubt the Fairness of the Mueller Investigation, But Still Tend to Believe that the Charges Being Investigated are Serious

WASHINGTON--()--A new report from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group shows strong support for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a consensus that the allegations against Russia and the Trump campaign would be serious if proven true. However, a significant gap exists between Republican and Democratic voter attitudes toward Mueller and the investigation.

The Voter Study Group is a research collaboration of leading analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum. The new report, Jumping to Collusions: Americans React to Russia and the Mueller Investigation, by Joe Goldman (Democracy Fund) and Robert Griffin (Public Religion Research Institute), analyzed new data from a May 2018 survey of more than 6,000 Americans about their attitudes toward the Mueller investigation.

Key findings from Jumping to Collusions include:

  • About two in 10 Americans think it would be appropriate for Trump to fire Mueller, while six in 10 say it would not. In addition, most Americans believe that it would not be appropriate for the President to pardon senior members of his administration over the investigation. Even among those Americans who are “not too confident” in the fairness of the Mueller investigation, 58 percent say removing Mueller would be inappropriate. It is only among those who are “not at all confident” in the investigation that support for removing Mueller emerges (58%).
  • While skeptical about the integrity of the investigation, a majority of Trump voters (51%) say that the charge of obstructing the Mueller investigation is serious, if true. Similar percentages of Trump voters say that the charges of seeking or accepting Russian assistance are serious.
  • 90 percent of Clinton voters believe that improper contact with Russia probably occurred while 82 percent of Trump voters say it probably did not. Similar levels of polarization can be found in perceptions of the FBI and Justice Department, along with the integrity of the investigation itself.
  • Among Republicans, Kasich and Rubio voters are the most supportive of the investigation and most skeptical of presidential intervention in the investigation. More than a third of Kasich voters (37 percent) and one in six Rubio voters (16 percent) think that the Trump campaign “definitely” or “probably” had inappropriate contact with Russia.
  • Republicans who consume a lot of news are more likely to be supportive of the Trump administration and skeptical of the investigation. Compared to those who follow the news “some of the time” or less, Republicans who follow the news “most of the time” are more likely to say that the Trump campaign did not have improper contact with Russia (88 percent vs. 63 percent) and that they are “not confident” in the fairness of the Russia investigation (80 percent vs. 49 percent).

While it is encouraging that more Americans are confident the investigation is fair, the deep partisan divides on this issue raise red flags,” said Robert Griffin, associate director of Research at the Public Religion Research Institute. “It’s also troubling that Republican voters who are more likely to follow the news are actually less supportive of the investigation, indicating that the current media environment is doing more to polarize Americans than unite us around a common set of facts.”

Most Americans believe that the President is not above the law and should not interfere with the investigation,” said Joe Goldman, president of Democracy Fund and co-founder of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group. “It’s only when people lose all faith in the fairness of the investigation that a willingness to support pardoning senior administration officials emerges. Leaders from both parties need to take steps to ensure that the American people are able to believe in the integrity of this investigation and our system of justice.”

The full report can be found at, along with other research from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group.

About the Voter Study Group

The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is a research collaboration of nearly two dozen analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum examining and delivering insights on the evolving views of American voters. Our research and analysis is designed to help policy makers and thought leaders listen more closely, and respond more powerfully, to the views of American voters. Please sign up for email alerts here.

VOTER Survey Methodology Summary

In partnership with the survey firm YouGov, the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group commissioned the May 2018 VOTER Survey (Views of the Electorate Research) Survey of 4,705 adults who had participated in similar surveys in 2011, 2012 and 2016. The May 2018 VOTER Survey also included interviews with 500 Hispanic respondents and 800 respondents ages 18-24, who had not previously participated in the earlier VOTER surveys. A complete 2018 survey methodology is available here.

About Democracy Fund

Democracy Fund is a bipartisan foundation created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar to help ensure that our political system can withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Since 2011, Democracy Fund has invested more than $100 million in support of a healthy democracy, including modern elections, effective governance, and a vibrant public square.


Democracy Fund Voter Study Group
Lauren Strayer, 202-420-1928
Jack D’Amato, 404-995-4500

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