Despite Republicans’ best efforts to neutralize the political impact of former President Donald Trump’s four criminal indictments by playing up the legal travails of President Biden’s son Hunter, a growing number of Americans say Trump and his family are more “corrupt” than Biden and his family, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.
The survey of 1,665 U.S. adults, which was conducted from Aug. 17 to 21, found a 10-point gap between those who believe the Trumps are more corrupt (46%) and those who believe the Bidens are more corrupt (36%). The last time the question was asked, in October 2022, the margin between the Trumps (42%) and the Bidens (35%) was 7 points.
Likewise, a majority of Americans (53%) now say Trump and his family are corrupt, compared with just 28% who say they are not. Since October, that gap has increased from 18 to 25 points. It is now more than twice as large as the 11-point difference between those who think the Bidens are corrupt (45%) and those who think they are not (34%).
Such numbers do not, of course, reflect well on either clan. Since the last Yahoo News/YouGov sounding in October, Trump has been charged with 91 felonies relating to hush money payments, racketeering, election interference and the hoarding of classified documents; Hunter Biden has seen a deal fall apart that would have helped him avoid prison by pleading guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and agreeing to enter a diversion program for a gun charge. Both men are under investigation by a special counsel.
And as soon as Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in January, they launched their own probe seeking to prove that Hunter Biden got a “sweetheart deal” from federal prosecutors under pressure to protect the president, who they claim is complicit in a long-running plot to profit from his position through his son’s shady dealings.
But while the new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows increasing public awareness of Hunter Biden’s problems — and a willingness, even among Democrats, to admit that he may have broken the law — it also shows that Americans aren’t buying the argument that Joe Biden crossed the line as well.
When asked in October whether “Joe Biden did anything illegal regarding Hunter Biden,” 42% of respondents said yes. Today, after months of GOP accusations, that number (44%) is essentially unchanged.
As usual, partisan polarization accounts for most of these “yes, Joe Biden broke the law” responses. To be clear, Republicans have not provided any evidence that “U.S. government decisions were altered to benefit the Biden family, or that President Biden may have received bribes, or that there are direct links between the older Biden and Hunter Biden’s business deals, discussions or payments.” Nonetheless, a full 86% of 2020 Trump voters say Biden either “probably” (17%) or “definitely” (69%) committed Hunter-related crimes. Just 13% of 2020 Biden voters agree.
In comparison, a majority of Americans — not just a majority of partisans — already think Trump should be “found guilty” on some or all charges in the election cases, both at the federal level (54%) and in Georgia (52%).
Biden (47%) also continues to lead Trump (41%) in a hypothetical 2024 election matchup.
Yet even though Americans remain unconvinced that Joe Biden is somehow corrupt, they are increasingly certain of his son’s culpability. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) now believe Hunter Biden definitely or probably did something illegal, up 13 points (from 51%) since last October.
Interestingly, that shift is being driven mainly by Democrats. More than half of 2020 Biden voters (56%) now believe Hunter broke the law, double the October number (28%).
The likeliest explanation? The fact that Hunter Biden, unlike Trump, has actually signaled his willingness to plead guilty to crimes. As a result, 59% of Americans (including 57% of Biden voters) believe Hunter “failed to meet tax filing deadlines,” and 60% of Americans (including 55% of Biden voters) believe he “lied on a U.S. government form by saying he was not using drugs when he purchased a handgun” — both offenses he was expected to admit to.
Likewise, just a quarter of 2020 Biden supporters (25%) say the U.S. justice system is “being unfairly weaponized against Hunter Biden,” while a majority (55%) say it is being “fairly applied in order to hold Hunter Biden accountable for his actions.”
In comparison, a full 85% of 2020 Trump supporters say the justice system is being unfairly weaponized against the former president.
Most Americans — 53%, including 27% of 2020 Biden voters — also favor putting Hunter “on trial for serious crimes.”
Where sharp disagreement remains, however, is on the question of whether Joe Biden should be implicated in his son’s misdeeds. A full 59% of Americans (including 45% of 2020 Biden voters) believe that Hunter Biden “traded on his family name and proximity to power to get millions of dollars from foreign business associates.” But only 41% of Americans think Hunter “funneled millions of dollars to his father in a long-running scheme to help Joe Biden profit off of his position.”
Among 2020 Trump voters, that number soars to 86%. Among 2020 Biden voters, it plummets to just 9%.
The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,665 U.S. adults interviewed online from Aug. 17 to Aug. 21, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (32% Democratic, 27% Republican). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.8%.