A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds that nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults (64%) favor Congress “investigating the classified documents found at [President] Biden’s home and post-vice-presidential office” — including a majority of Democrats (52%).
Just 16% of Americans — and 27% of Democrats — oppose such an investigation.
This broad bipartisan consensus represents unwelcome news to the White House, which has struggled over the last two weeks to manage a steady drip of revelations about additional documents discovered in various locations — revelations that echo the ongoing clash between former President Donald Trump and federal authorities over the “highly classified” materials seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate in 2022.
Newly empowered House Republicans, in contrast, will see vindication in such numbers: They have already demanded that the administration turn over all information related to the documents, including visitor logs from Biden’s home. (The White House says no such visitor logs exist for Biden’s Delaware residence.)
“We have a lot of questions,” GOP Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said Sunday.
The survey of 1,538 U.S. adults, which was conducted from Jan. 12 to Jan. 16, also shows that relatively few Americans accept Democrats’ main defense of Biden: that he reportedly had far fewer (and less highly classified) documents than Trump, and promptly returned them to the National Archives upon discovery (without having to be subpoenaed first).
“I’m hoping that we will keep a sense of symmetry about our analysis of these situations and a sense of proportion about the underlying offenses,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said Sunday on CNN.
Yet even after hearing a brief description of the story — “lawyers for President Biden recently alerted the National Archives that they had found a small number of classified documents in an office Biden used after serving as vice president and at his Delaware home” — just 31% of Americans say that Biden’s document situation is “less serious” than Trump’s.
Far more see the two issues as “equally serious” (32%) or consider Biden’s “more serious” than Trump’s (21%).
Reflecting that sense of equivalence — however contested — Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel last week to investigate the Biden documents, just as he did earlier in the Trump case. The following day, new House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, launched the first formal congressional probe into what he described as the president’s “mishandling” of classified records and the Justice Department’s investigation into the matter.
According to the Yahoo News/YouGov poll, this may be — for now — the most popular of the many investigations House Republicans have vowed to launch now that they hold subpoena power. An investigation of the documents found at Biden’s home and post-VP office garners as much support as probing “the security of the U.S. southern border” (also 64%) and more than other potential House investigations into the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic (59% favor, 23% oppose); the DOJ and FBI and their own criminal probes into Trump (53% favor, 30% oppose); Hunter Biden (49% favor, 31% oppose); and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan (49% favor, 25% oppose).
Far less popular is the idea — already broached by several right-wing House Republicans — that Biden should be impeached. Before mentioning the documents, Yahoo News and YouGov asked respondents if they would “favor or oppose the U.S. House impeaching President Biden” (with no specific rationale provided).
The results were predictably polarized, with slightly more Americans opposed (42%) than in favor (38%). They were also split along party lines: Republicans were widely pro-impeachment (68%) and Democrats were widely anti- (69%). The results may also indicate that proposing impeachment (and expressing support for it, regardless of circumstances) has become a routine way for partisans to punish the other side.
Yet these polarized results underscore another key takeaway from the survey that may be more positive for Biden. While even most Democrats think the documents warrant further investigation, Biden’s overall political standing has not so far suffered as a result.
The president’s job approval rating among all Americans, at 43% approve to 49% disapprove, is essentially unchanged from mid-December, when it stood at 43% approve to 50% disapprove. Pitted against Trump in a potential 2024 presidential rematch, Biden actually leads by slightly more now (46% to 40%) than he did one month ago (45% to 41%). Biden garners less support (44%) in a theoretical race against Trump’s likeliest rival for the GOP nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (42%) — but he still leads by 2 points after tying DeSantis (at 43%) in mid-December.
A note of caution for Biden, however: Last month, more Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they would prefer him (46%) to “someone else” (37%) as the 2024 Democratic nominee. Now, more Democrats and Democratic leaners say they would prefer someone else (39%) to Biden (38%).
Over the same period that Biden’s support on this question fell 8 percentage points, the number of Democrats and Democratic leaners who say they’re “not sure” has gone up by 7. This suggests that while Biden’s backing remains steady in a partisan contest against Trump or DeSantis — and in terms of his performance as president — the documents situation may have revived uncertainty among Democrats about whether he would be their strongest presidential nominee in 2024.
The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,538 U.S. adults interviewed online from Jan. 12 to 16, 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 2.7%.