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Majority of Trump voters believe debunked theories about election, Capitol attack, poll finds

Then-President Donald Trump spoke during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2020.
Then-President Donald Trump spoke during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2020.Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Divisions and infighting may be roiling the Republican Party, but according to a new poll from Suffolk University and USA Today, it’s clear among Trump voters who remains on top: the former president.

In fact, 46 percent of those surveyed asserted they would leave the Republican Party and pledge their allegiance to Trump if he decided to create a new party, something the former president reportedly considered briefly following the November election.

The survey of 1,000 Trump voters was taken by phone last Monday through Friday, and the results were released Sunday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


Amid the internal struggle within the GOP, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has said recently that the “Trump movement is alive and well” and that Trump is “the most potent force” within the party, even after facing a charge that he incited the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6 at the US Capitol.

The poll appears to back the South Carolina senator’s declaration: half of those surveyed said the GOP should increase its loyalty to Trump. Only one in five — or 19 percent — contended the opposite: the party should disavow its stronger attachments to the former president in the interest of aligning with establishment Republicans.

Those surveyed expressed stronger ties to Trump as a person (54 percent) than they did the Republican Party itself (34 percent).

The former president is scheduled to address the Conservative Public Action Conference, which is being held on Feb. 28 in Florida. The speech will mark his first public appearance since he left the White House. It’s the same stage where his modern career as a politician began in 2011 — though it’s not yet known what he will say this time around.


The Republican Party’s divisions spilled out into the public last week when Trump sent a scathing letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell following McConnell’s condemnation of Trump in the wake of his impeachment trial. In what was largely seen as a move by Trump to portray himself as the leader of the Republican Party moving forward, he claimed that any senator who stood on the side of the minority leader’s brand of politics “will not win again.”

Though McConnell did not vote to convict, his condemnation of Trump’s actions has drawn criticism among Trump supporters. And according to the poll, Trump supporters are viewing Republicans who supported his impeachment through the same lens of betrayal as the former president.

Eight in 10 said they would be less likely to cast their ballot for a GOP candidate who voted to impeach Trump. An equal portion of those surveyed said the cohort of Republican senators who voted to convict Trump — among them Maine Senator Susan Collins and Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey — did so because they were motivated by political calculations, rather than their consciences.

Just 4 percent of those surveyed said the impeachment trial made them less supportive of Trump. Meanwhile, 42 percent said their support for him increased.

The poll also found that most Trump voters have bought into debunked conspiracy theories and outright lies about who was involved in the insurrection and what exactly occurred. For instance, 58 percent of those polled said that it was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters.”


Yet many of those arrested by federal law enforcement have established ties to right-wing militias and extremist groups. The Massachusetts-based Super Happy Fun America had at least two of their members arrested.

Members of Congress, including New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also have stated that they feared for their lives during the violent attack.

But even in light of those like the Proud Boys, who have previously pledged loyalty to Trump and for whom at least one member’s attorneys are arguing the former president is to blame for inciting the insurrection, more than nine in 10 Trump voters say he is not guilty of doing so. And nearly 8 in 10 say the crowd would have stormed the Capitol even if Trump had not told those at his rally to “fight like hell.”

A large percentage of Trump voters also say they want him to run for president again in 2024, with 76 percent in favor of supporting his nomination and 85 percent open to voting for him in the general election.

Those surveyed are not ready to accept Joe Biden as president, either — despite Biden’s decisive win in the Electoral College and popular vote — with 73 percent saying he was not legitimately elected.

Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.