Majority of Independent Voters Think Donald Trump Encouraged Capitol Violence: Poll

A majority of independent voters believe former President Donald Trump encouraged violence at the Capitol on January 6, according to a new poll conducted ahead of his second impeachment trial.

The CBS News/YouGov survey found that 54 percent of independents asked felt Trump had encouraged the violence, which left five people dead including a police officer.

Overall, 56 percent of all those asked believe Trump encouraged the violence, while 88 percent of Democrats felt that was the case. Far fewer Republicans shared that view, at 21 percent.

The poll was taken from February 5 to 8 and has a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points. The questions were put to 2,508 U.S. adults.

The view of independents is notable with polling indicating they are the largest group of American voters.

A Gallup survey from January 4 to 15 shows that 45 percent of voters now say they are independents.

By comparison, 30 percent of voters identified themselves as Democrats and 24 percent as Republicans.

A 2020 election exit poll conducted by The Washington Post showed President Joe Biden winning independent voters and others by 54 percent to 41 percent.

That division between votes for the Democratic and Republican candidate was much closer in 2016 when Trump won 43 percent of self-identified independents, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won 42 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

The Senate trial, slated to officially begin on Tuesday, will give GOP senators an opportunity to vote on Trump's behavior, determining whether to convict or acquit him.

Opening arguments are expected to be heard on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press and NBC News.

Democrats would need 17 Republicans to vote to convict alongside them, in order to secure the 67 votes for a two-thirds majority needed for conviction.

Just 10 Republican members of the House voted with Democrats in favor of impeachment.

In the CBS News poll, 71 percent of Republican respondents said members of the party who vote against Trump, either having done so previously to impeach in the House or who do so to convict in his trial, are disloyal.

The poll also showed that 46 percent of self-identified Republicans think loyalty to Trump is "very important" and 27 percent see it as "somewhat important."

A conviction could also lead to a subsequent vote on barring the former president from holding federal office in the future.

Several Republicans have claimed that trying Trump now that he has left office is unconstitutional, but Democrats reject this argument and the trial is proceeding.

However, the number of Republicans who backed a Senate motion arguing against its constitutionality hinted at another acquittal for Trump.

 President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump pause while speaking to supporters at Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for his last time as President on January 20, 2021 in Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. A majority of independent voters in a new poll say Trump encouraged violence at the Capitol. Pete Marovich - Pool/Getty Images