GOP Pollster Luntz: Perceptions of Trump Shaped by Jan. 6 Hearings

GOP Pollster Luntz: Perceptions of Trump Shaped by Jan. 6 Hearings frank luntz listens during a milken institute global conference Frank Luntz (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Thursday, 23 June 2022 12:21 PM

Fewer people may be tuning in to watch the Jan. 6 select committee hearings, but polling is showing that the testimony is having an impact on perceptions of former President Donald Trump's hold on the Republican party, GOP pollster Frank Luntz said Thursday.

"I look at the polling that just came out from New Hampshire, where for the first time Ron DeSantis is ahead of Donald Trump in a very credible survey," Luntz said on CNN's "New Day." "Trump's numbers are falling, and that is what's changing the dynamic here. It is not having an impact on Republicans, it is having an impact on the perceptions of Donald Trump and it will have an impact on whether or not he runs."

According to a University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll released on Wednesday, DeSantis, governor of Florida, got 39% support from likely Republican primary voters in the state while Trump got 37%.

Although the poll numbers are within the margin of error, putting the two Republicans in a statistical tie for the early voting state, the numbers show DeSantis is now "more than a threat" for Trump, said Luntz.

"The governor is proving that his approach and what he's trying to accomplish and what he has accomplished in Florida is more significant, and Republicans are now saying it's time to move on," Luntz said.
Trump remains the most popular political figure in the GOP, Luntz said, but with DeSantis' numbers on the rise, "there is a specific challenger" that Trump could face in two years.

"Trump can yell and scream and send out his emails," Luntz said. "I'm on his list, and they're all emotional and they all are meant to blow things up, but they're having less and less of an impact with every single month."

Meanwhile, according to a new Quinnipiac Poll, about a quarter of those polled said they're not watching the hearings closely. Luntz said the real question isn't whether people are watching the hearings but the impact of those hearings.

"We know two statistics," Luntz said. "Number one is how we have a lower degree of trust and confidence in elections and our American democratic process than at any time in modern history, so clearly this focus on what happened on January 6 and going back to November of 2020 is having an impact simply on whether we believe that democracy works."

But second, Luntz said, is the polling that shows Trump is "paying a price for what these hearings are showing, so it's having an impact even among Republicans."

However, the committee has missed a "brilliant opportunity" to capture Americans' attention and keep it on the hearings, Luntz said.

"Yes, 20 million people tuned in on the first night, but what they saw was too much of the politicians and not enough of that impactful, incredible video that showed exactly what happened in the Capitol, and in the end, the American people react to the visuals, not just the verbal, not just the conversation, and it is those visuals that proved to them that something awful happened on January 6," Luntz said.

Luntz acknowledged that the politicians on the committee would want to give their speeches, but the voters want to see the facts before the commentary.

"Instead, they had long opening speeches," he said. "They're still doing it today. They seem to be trying to score political points rather than making a more democratic point for the American people."

Luntz also discussed President Joe Biden's call for a gas tax holiday, saying that the opposition coming from both sides of the aisle in Congress shows how "weak" Biden is.

"We are seven days away from this absolute explosion," he said. "You can't put $50 of gas in your car and get to where you're going over the Fourth of July weekend and you can't buy the food you need to buy unless you're spending hundreds of dollars. So the American people for the first time are going to feel the full effects, and Congress is saying no."

Congress' reluctance, though, will protect Biden, as he can blame the lack of action on gas prices on Congress, said Luntz, but "the Democrats control the House. They control the Senate, and when your own party doesn't back you up, that says a lot."

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