On June 13 2022, a popular tweet from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich circulated; it asserted that a full two-thirds of Americans polled — 67 percent — were in favor of “legal action” undertaken by the U.S. Department of Justice, aimed at elected officials who participated in efforts to overturn an American election:
Reich referenced, but did not link to, a poll conducted by Politico and Morning Consult. In the tweet, Reich appeared to transcribe a specific question on that poll — to which 67 percent of respondents chose “yes,” and 21 percent chose “no.”
Initial efforts to locate the poll in question were unsuccessful. Google searches for the bulk of Reich’s phrasing (in quotes) returned only five results in total, all of which were related to the tweet.
Eventually, we located a June 13 2022 Politico briefing, which reported:
POLL: VOTERS SUPPORT DOJ ACTION — In a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, a majority of voters said they think the Justice Department should bring legal action against elected officials who have attempted to overturn the results of an election — a question that has cropped up in light of the hearings.
Do you believe that the Department of Justice should bring legal action against …
… elected officials who have misled Americans about the outcome of an election: Sixty-three percent said “yes, probably” or “yes definitely,” while 26% said “no, probably not” or “no, definitely not.” Net approval: +37
… elected officials who have attempted to overturn the results of an American election: Sixty-seven percent said “yes,” 21% said “no.” Net approval: +46
A search for “Politico Morning Consult Poll” (date-restricted to results published between June 7 and 14 2022) led to a “National Tracking Poll” [PDF] published to Politico.com during that period of time. On the first page of the 11-page document, similar but not identical questions appeared:
At the top of the page, a header indicated polling occurred between June 10 and 12 2022, and the poll’s margin of error was 2 percent. On page two of the poll, the first visible question and fourth overall appeared to be the one Reich’s tweet referenced:
That question was worded: “And do you believe that the Department of Justice should bring legal action against the following? Elected officials who have attempted to overturn the results of an American election.” Five responses in total followed, with corresponding percentages:
- Yes, definitely [47%];
- Yes, probably [20%];
- No, probably not [11%];
- No, definitely not [9%], and;
- Don’t know/No opinion [12%].
Reich’s tweet counted the number of “yes” responses as 67 percent, and the number of “no” responses as 21 percent — the phrasing used by Politico in its own reporting referencing the poll. Technically, 47 percent voted “yes, definitely” to 20 percent voting “yes, probably.”
Eleven percent voted “no, probably not” to nine percent voting “no, definitely not”; the two “yes” categories totaled 67 percent, and the two “no” columns totaled 20 percent. It wasn’t immediately clear why Politico summarized the combined “no” votes as 21 percent versus 20 percent, and twelve percent chose “don’t know/no opinion.”
A June 13 2022 tweet by Reich asserted that a Politico/Morning Consult poll asked whether the “Department of Justice [should] bring legal action against elected officials who have attempted to overturn the results of an American election,” and that 67 percent voted yes, with 21 percent voting no. Reich’s phrasing matched phrasing and figures published by Politico in a newsletter on June 13 2022. Those figures were derived from two separate categories for yes and no (each with a “definitely” or “probably,”) and Reich described the question and the results as summarized by the outlet accurately.