Half of Americans think Biden got special treatment in document probe: Reuters/Ipsos poll

By Thomson Reuters Feb 13, 2024 | 5:12 AM

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – About half of Americans think President Joe Biden got special treatment when federal prosecutors decided last week they would not prosecute him for allegedly mishandling classified documents, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Some 53% of respondents, including 29% of Democrats, in the four-day poll which closed on Monday, agree with a statement that “Biden received special treatment because he is the U.S. president.”

About half – or 46% – of respondents said they were at least somewhat familiar with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Hur’s comments that prosecuting Biden would be tough because Biden, 81, could present himself to the jury “as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Biden has blasted Hur’s report which suggested the president was suffering memory lapses.

The poll results underscore potentially critical vulnerabilities for Biden as he seeks re-election. Some 78% of respondents in the poll – including 71% of Democrats – think Biden, already the oldest person ever to occupy the Oval Office, is too old to work in government.

Trump, his likely opponent in the November election, is 77 but suffers less from voter skepticism over his age. Only 53% of respondents consider Trump, who was president 2017-2021, to be too old for government work.

The poll also points to potential room for Trump to undercut Biden’s campaign strategy of calling attention to Trump’s myriad legal problems.

Trump is facing four criminal indictments and dozens of charges but claims innocence on all counts and has argued the government’s failure to prosecute Biden is evidence the justice system is trying to derail his presidential run.

Biden’s lawyers reported finding documents in his home and office space that he had took with him at the close of his 2009-2017 term as vice president under Democratic President Barack Obama.

Some 64% of respondents, including 50% of Democrats, considered it believable that Biden’s took the information illegally. A similar share of respondents – 68% – said they considered it believable that Trump also mishandled classified documents, a charge that is at the center of one of his indictments.

Still, Biden remains neck-and-neck with Trump among voters in a potential head-to-head race, a sign that his vulnerabilities on his legal issues and his age could be offset by the risks facing Trump’s campaign.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll surveyed 1,237 U.S. adults nationwide between Feb. 9 and Feb 12. It had a margin of error of about 3 percentage points in either direction.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Scott Malone and Lincoln Feast.)