71 Percent of Americans Say Trump Can’t Get an Impartial Jury: Survey

71 Percent of Americans Say Trump Can’t Get an Impartial Jury: Survey
Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after being booked at the Fulton County jail on 13 charges related to the 2020 election, in Atlanta, Ga. on Aug. 24, 2023. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joseph Lord

A majority of Americans, more than seven in 10, don’t think President Donald Trump can get an impartial jury in his ongoing legal battles according to a new survey about Americans’ trust in the broader legal system.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos, surveyed Americans from the general population and the population of those who have served on juries in the past 10 years to learn their attitudes toward various aspects of the criminal justice system.

The poll found that former jurors were more likely than the general population to trust in the criminal justice system as a whole, including attorneys across all fields, judges, and state and local law enforcement.

They also had a nearly 20 percent more favorable view of their fellow citizens serving on juries than their peers: 76 percent of former jurors reported “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in jurors, compared to 58 percent of non-jurors—the highest level of trust across both groups for all legal positions discussed.

But Americans are less optimistic about former President Donald Trump’s chances of receiving an impartial jury in one of the cases against him relating to his alleged illegal retention of classified documents. Only the documents case, one of four ongoing trials against the former president, was asked about.

In the survey, 1,017 members of the general population—those who haven’t served on a jury in the past 10 years—were asked, “If the cases against Donald Trump go to trial, how confident are you, if at all, that the court will be able to find and seat jurors willing to put aside their prior beliefs about Donald Trump and decide the case based on the evidence presented?”

Overall, 71 percent of those said they were not confident, including 30 percent who said they were “not at all confident” of this outcome and 41 percent who said they were “not too confident” about an impartial jury.

Only 28 percent expressed confidence that President Trump’s jurors could put aside their past perspectives. And the majority of those answering this way, 23 percent, said they were only “somewhat confident” of this outcome. Only five percent said they were “very confident” that President Trump could receive an unbiased jury.

Over the past several decades, Americans’ faith in the jury process, a constitutional pillar of American political life, has remained strong despite a corollary decrease in Americans’ trust of other types of political and legal institutions.

Faith in the jury process has survived several blows, including the acquittal of O.J. Simpson, who many believed to have murdered his wife and her friend, who was later acquitted. Politically-fraught outcomes, including the acquittal of George Zimmerman and Kyle Rittenhouse, and the conviction of Derek Chauvin on murder charges related to George Floyd’s death, have also failed to shake Americans’ core belief in the jury system.

However, the politically fraught criminal cases of the 45th president could erode faith in the system, as members of both the pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions will be unlikely to accept a jury outcome they think was unfair.

Most Cases in Left-Wing Jurisdictions

This problem is only compounded by the political composition of the jurisdictions where President Trump will be tried, as most lean substantially to the left on the political spectrum.
The case related to President Trump’s handling of classified documents will likely take place in Fort Pierce, Florida, part of a county that voted for President Trump in 2020, with jurors pulled from nearby areas.

But other cases against President Trump will be carried out in less favorable political environments.

The first criminal case against him, alleging that he paid adult performer Stormy Daniels hush money to cover up an affair in contravention of campaign finance law, will take place in Manhattan—where, in 2020, 86.7 percent of residents voted for President Joe Biden.

Another case filed against President Trump alleges that he sought to illegally overturn the 2020 election. That case will be held in Washington, D.C.—a place where President Trump received only 5.4 percent of the popular vote in 2020 compared to 92.2 percent for President Biden, and where many residents harbor memories and resentment over the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.

The most recent case filed against President Trump was filed in Fulton County, one of the counties of the greater Atlanta area where President Biden won 72.6 percent of the vote. Nearby counties similarly voted for President Biden by wide margins.

Given the political bent of the areas where the cases are being held, it is even more likely that supporters of President Trump will view any jury pool as suspect.